Chamber celebrates year of progress on Innovation Gainesville


Susan Parrish, third from left, and her son J.M. Parrish, center, stand with family and friends during the 100th birthday celebration for the family business Coldwell Banker/M.M. Parrish Realtors during the Chamber of Commerce banquet on Thursday.

Aaron Daye/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 10:04 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 11:28 p.m.

One year ago, the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce launched its ambitious jobs and economic development plan called Innovation Gainesville at its annual banquet.

On Thursday night, chamber members and partners gathered again to celebrate a year of progress through efforts that created jobs, streamlined regulations for Innovation Square, awarded $50,000 to an innovative new company, and built on collaborations between business, government and education.

The "Collaboratory — 2011 Toast to Business" was held at the Gainesville Raceway, home of Gatornationals, to honor some of the people and organizations that helped further the goals of the chamber and the Innovation Gainesville plan — or "iG."

Outgoing Chairman Eric Godet mentioned efforts to create mentoring and internship programs, as well as the work of the night's Innovation Advocate Award winners Anthony Lyons and Phoebe Cade Miles with accomplishing some of the goals of Innovation Gainesville.

Lyons, manager of the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency, spearheaded an effort to rezone the area around the former Shands AGH site where the University of Florida Innovation Hub is under construction to create uses to allow science and technology buildings and the kind of urban design the so-called creative class prefers.

Across town, the City Plan Board voted Thursday night to recommend that the City Commission approve the new zoning.

Lyons also chaired an iG team working to create a seed fund for local start-ups.

Cade Miles is president and founder of The Cade Museum Foundation that last year awarded the first $50,000 Cade Prize for Innovation to Gainesville company Tutor Matching Service, accomplishing Innovation Gainesville's goal of awarding innovation. She shared her award with husband Richard Miles.

Undersecretary of Education Martha Kanter, in town for Friday's Presidential Leadership Seminar at Santa Fe College, credited Gainesville's efforts, but cited the need here and nationwide to improve school readiness, graduation rates and college completion through efforts such as the Race to the Top program.

"Hopefully Washington can spur you to innovate and not tie you up with unnecessary regulations," she said.

Godet awarded the chairman's award to chamber partner FloridaWorks' employees and executive director Angela Pate for overseeing the stimulus program that created 319 jobs and $3 million in wages, as well as helping companies hire 56 people for high-wage jobs with $1.4 million in wages and bringing in $2.9 million in training programs.

The Council for Economic Outreach, the chamber's economic development arm, was recognized for helping lure Sybac Solar, which is building a 2-megawatt, $8 million solar farm, and helping retain Prime Conduit with training for 20 employees and another 30 they plan to add.

Godet also noted that Sinmat Inc., a member of the chamber's Gainesville Technology Enterprise Center business incubator, recently purchased its own building as part of its continuing growth. GTEC also introduced two companies — IATech and Pandion Systems — that collaborated to receive a total of $5 million in federal grants for wildlife studies.

Other honors included:

* The Chamber Diplomat of the Year to Bob Franks of Central Florida Office Plus for advocating the chamber's Buy Local Program.

* Volunteer of the Year awards to Bryan Harrington of MM Parrish Construction for chairing the Business Community Coalition and advocating business issues to local, state and national elected officials; and Terri Lowery of Jones Edmunds and Associates for campaigning against Amendment 4.

* The Parrish family of Coldwell Banker/M.M. Parrish Realtors was recognized for being founding members and involvement in the chamber from its inception 87 years ago. The realty company is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

* Thomas McIntosh of Prudential Trend Realty was installed as chamber chairman for 2011.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top