Cade Museum, Gainesville downtown redevelopment and much more

The Cade Museum represents a great opportunity to support downtown redevelopment, build our tourism product that supports small businesses, cement our “innovation” brand nationally and provide our kids an eternal source of inspiration for invention and creativity.  We, as those focused on building our economy, almost could not ask for a better project to support.

John Carlson, the 2014 Chair of the Gainesville Chamber’s economic development arm, the Council for Economic Outreach, provides reasons why the public and our government officials should seize this opportunity for our community.

I urge you to read the article and find a way to support the Cade Museum:

Leadership in Gainesville

The Gainesville Sun ran an editorial on Sunday, September 14, 2014 titled, “New Leadership.”  Here is an excerpt and link to the full editorial.

“Since Tim Giuliani was hired as president of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce in 2012, the group has become more involved in local government. The chamber has created groups to study issues such as GRU’s finances and governance, and made recommendations for reforms.

The group’s members have advocated for the Plum Creek development and will hopefully be leaders of the campaign for the transportation surtax on the ballot in November. Even if you don’t agree with the chamber’s positions on these issues, it is a positive development that a broader array of community members than before has become involved in public policy.

There have been rough goings in the leadership transitions for some of our major institutions, but these examples provide hope for successful conclusions.”

These comments reflect what a dedicated staff and strong business leaders can mean to a community.  Setting the tone to address the big community issues is the legacy of chambers of commerce leaders for the past 150+ years of American history.  I’m glad to be a part of what is going on in Gainesville (Alachua County), Florida.

UF and Gainesville rising together

UF Signature with Themeline

We are living in transformational times in Gainesville, FL.  Indeed, the world is shifting and creating new winners and losers in this global 21st century economy.  Gainesville and UF are leading Florida’s push to diversify its economy, although the strategies are sometimes not widely known.

Thank you to the Gainesville Sun for publishing my column titled, “UF’s rise is helping to put Gainesville on the map.”  If you are interested in the very real connection between higher education and economic development, this information should help explain the tremendous impact UF’s preeminence goal will have on our regional economy.
Go Gators!


Gainesville growing tech sector

Tech Council

The IT sector is growing in the Gainesville region and we are doubling down on our strategy to support and grow companies and jobs in this sector.  Last week, we announced our new collaboration with Gainesville tech entrepreneurs to launch the “Gainesville Area Tech Council” that will operate through the Chamber and be led by an industry advisory board.

This represents another step in implementing our “Regional Platform for the Future.”  We’ve aligned our six lines of business (Business Development, Economic Development, International Trade, Public Policy, iG & Regional Initiatives, and Talent Alignment & Workforce Development) to support our targeted IT industry sector through this tech council.  Over the coming months, our founding advisory board will outline the goals and strategies for their first year.  The 2014 Advisory Board in currently led by Augi Lye, Trendy Entertainment, Amir Rubin, Paracosm, Duncan Kabinu, Starter Space, and Josh Greenberg, Grooveshark.  This group and its membership will build out in the coming months.

City of Gainesville Mayor Ed Braddy and Commissioner Todd Chase, and Alachua County Commissioner Lee Pinkoson were on hand to make the announcement last Thursday night at our /hobnob kick-off event. The /hobnob event, connecting current students to potential technology employers in the region, is just the first step in a variety of objectives, activities and plans designed for the foreseeable future.  This is a critical piece to keeping our talent here and plugging our brain drain.

Visit for more information on the Gainesville Area Technology Council and opportunities to join and get involved.

News stories:

Business in the Heart of Florida:

GTN news story:

Social media activity:

Announcing leadership book project

I need your help and so do our leaders.

Leadership is essential to solve problems and articulate a vision that inspires. The challenges we face collectively and individually are as daunting as many previous generations have faced. The world has been inspired and lead by individuals and by clear visions that can galvanize action for positive results. Individually, we need the courage and strength to guide our daily lives that are filled with dilemmas without clear “right” and “wrong” answers. But, perhaps what we all need most are good role models that demonstrate courage and leadership which helps us lead the life we aspire to. For this reason, I begin this book project to capture the most salient guidance from true leaders that I hope provide current and future leaders with insight that is so hard to gain, yet so critical to becoming a strong, authentic leader that inspires.

Since an early age, I’ve thirsted for tips, wisdom and insight into becoming a better leader. The volumes written on this topic are helpful and important, but I’ve learned the most through observing other leaders. What I worry most about is a new generation of emerging leaders struggling to gain the same insight in a world where great leaders are hard to find. Without great role models, young leaders are pushed into a dilemma: grave global challenges and few role models to learn from. To help address this dilemma, I will provide lessons I have learned along with many examples of great leaders that have demostrated the courage, skill and vision to inspire.

I hope this book will be a great learning tool for leaders and aspiring leaders.  To sum up the book, I’m striving for a new “Profiles in Courage” for a new generation, with a Randy Pausch “Last Lecture” perspective.

To have the greatest impact I will need your help. I need 100 leaders or aspiring leaders to sign up to help with this book project. I will rely on this group to offer suggestions on great role models, give feedback as the chapters on leadership lessons come together, and to also spread word of the project once it is complete, so this project will have the greatest reach possible.

Go to to signup for the “100 Leader Input Group.”



Early Childhood Investments and Economic Progress

This article is a product my wife and I worked on to combine our areas of passion and expertise. I am proud of my wife, Sarah. In addition to being a fantastic wife and great mother to our three children, she has a PhD in Communication Science and Disorders with an emphasis in language and literacy development from Florida State University. She also holds a Masters in Special Education with a Reading Endorsement and a Bachelor in Elementary Education from the University of Florida. She has worked at the Florida Center of Reading Research with published topics related to teacher quality, individualizing student instruction, and student academic outcomes. She has taught in preschool and elementary classrooms, and in higher education.

Our country is at a major crossroads. We are living in a time of major fundamental disagreements over our country’s economic issues and the path to economic prosperity. One thing that both politicians and researchers can agree on: there are far too many young children living in poverty. There are too many young children without access to basic human necessities such as food, clothing, shelter and adequate health care. These children are our future, and yet we are letting the most vulnerable members of our society down.

As a community, there is much that we can do to support them. One thing we can do to support these valuable assets is to provide them with access to high-quality early learning opportunities. These opportunities yield a number of short-term and long-term benefits, from personal to societal. High-quality programs make substantial contributions to the lives of young children and their families, and they yield high returns to society’s investment in them. When more money is spent on high quality early childhood education, the returns to society (and to the children) per dollar spent are higher. This is what makes early childhood education an economic development opportunity for our community. Early childhood education provides multiple economic investments to our community through two different avenues: the return on investment and the act of building human capital.

One thing that early childhood education investment does for our community is stimulate our economy by putting parents back to work. When children are in school, it allows their parents to join the labor force or provide time for parents to go back to school to learn a trade or further their education, thus allowing for greater cognitive, social and behavioral skills. When parents feel confident in their child’s caregiver or school, it creates less stress and more productivity from the parent. Furthermore, with the sense of reliability that comes with higher quality care, parents are less absent from work. This also provides a feeling of satisfaction because they know that their child is well taken care of and they harbor fewer feelings of guilt over leaving their child. Beyond it’s basic level, early childhood education allows our community to move toward greater social equity. A study conducted by the Foundation for Child Development and produced in collaboration with the Society for Research in Child Development states, “The most cost-effective educational interventions…are likely to be profitable investments for society as a whole.”

Research out of the Chicago Child-Parent Center Program found that society saves more than $7 for every $1 invested in preschool.

Building Human Capital

Talent is the new currency in economic development. We live in a knowledge economy where talent is both the driver and the key to our region’s economic prosperity. With emerging economies in China, India, Brazil and elsewhere, America’s economic competitiveness will come from knowledge-based careers, innovation and entrepreneurship. What all these opportunities have in common is the need for an educated workforce in addition to creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit. The best investment needed for this result is high-quality early childhood education.

Several studies have measured the outcomes of early childhood education programs. The Abecedarian Project found that young children who receive high-quality care from birth to age five are more likely to stay in school longer, perform better on reading and math assessments and cognitive assessments, graduate from high school and attend a four-year college. The High/Scope Perry Preschool followed 123 high-risk 3- and 4-year-old children and their families and found that by age 40, these adults were more likely to graduate from high school, hold a job, make higher earnings and commit fewer crimes than those who did not attend early childhood settings. The Chicago Child-Parent Center found similar results after following 989 students in the program versus 550 children who did not attend school through eighth grade and found that children who receive high-quality early education do better in school academically, are less likely to drop out of high school, be arrested, repeat grades or be placed in special education services.

Where Do We Go From Here

Early childhood educators cannot do this alone. They need your help and support, even if your child is not in school. During your lunch break or free time, consider becoming a part of Reading Pals, a joint collaboration between the United Way, Women Leadership Initiative, the Children’s Movement and local partners. They are looking for volunteers to dedicate an hour a week for 25 weeks or more to read in individual or small-group settings. Volunteers will be trained and screened before entering the program. The hour you give each week will have an effect that lasts a lifetime. Or, consider calling a local preschool to find out what supplies they need or how you might be able to support our most vulnerable assets.

Clearly, new policies and investments should be considered at every level of government. But, as in any movement, it all starts with you and me.

Plugging Gainesville’s Brain Drain

Gainesville has a long-standing reputation across the nation and world as a destination for those looking to receive a high quality education. The University of Florida was recently ranked the 14th best public university in the United States and Santa Fe College reached the U.S. Top 10 for community colleges. Both have proven successful in creating top-notch talent and innovative, aspiring entrepreneurs – one of the critical keys to building a sustainable economy. The other part of that equation is a community problem and one that will take a community to address and solve. That is, plugging the brain drain after these graduates enter in the local workforce looking for opportunities to grow and develop.

Gainesville’s loss of top-tier talent due to lack of competitive jobs was one of the main focuses of the Innovation Gainesville initiative, and the creation of jobs from the GED to the Ph.D is what many of our regional leaders are working hard to establish. Recently, we have started to position the community to move the needle on both.

On October 23, 2013, we celebrated with Florida Governor Rick Scott two major economic progress accomplishments in Nanotherapeutics and 160over90. Nanotherapeutics was a startup company grown at the UF Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator and is now expanding, bringing 150 new, high-wage jobs to our community, and an amazing $135 million capital investment. Not only is this a major success story for a company grown here and utilizing the resources provided in our region to be successful, but the fact that they chose to remain here with this significant expansion is a testament to how far our region has come to foster the growth of business.

The other big jobs announcement came from Philadelphia-based 160over90 when it picked Gainesville to establish a Southeastern U.S. headquarters. The 35 new jobs the company will create is substantial; but even more so, consider this as an international achievement given the firm’s global branding power with an impressive portfolio of clients from around the world.

Having a diverse business community is integral in any community’s economy, but for one that is accelerating its growth like ours, fostering the growth of various industry sectors is crucial, and goes a long way in continuing to plug the brain drain. With various industries growing in our region and diverse companies growing and expanding here, opportunity is increasing. With continued and accelerated growth, Gainesville will be a destination for all ages and talents, providing opportunity for young families to stay and thrive, while producing world-class, innovative products and services.

The Forty Under 40 celebration is a reminder that Gainesville is uniquely positioned to be that destination place for young professionals and entrepreneurs. The prospect list for Forty Under 40 list will continue to be more impressive in the coming years as new leaders establish themselves in the business community, while others help to strengthen our regional economic climate.

The Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce is proud to support the Forty Under 40, as well as the growth of our regional businesses, and the talent they recruit. Congratulations Gainesville. Keep going! Onward.