New Chamber chairman is focused on Gainesville's job growth

Thomas McIntosh, chairman of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, said his main goal is to improve the area's economy and create jobs.

Erica Brough/Staff photographer
Published: Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 28, 2011 at 9:39 p.m.

Far from using his new position as a bully pulpit, Thomas McIntosh sees his role as 2011 chairman of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce as keeping the Innovation Gainesville economic development plan on track.


Thomas McIntosh

Occupation: President, Prudential Trend Realty and Trend Management Solutions

Personal: Married to Jennifer; two daughters, Natalie and Colleen

Dream Partners for Lunch: George Washington and Elvis

Favorite Book: “7 Habits of Highly Successful People” by Stephen Covey

Last Book Read: “Up from Slavery: The Autobiography of Booker T. Washington”

Favorite Movie: “The Godfather”

Playing in his car: Bob Marley's Greatest Hits

Hobbies: Golf, boating

Education: BBA, Georgia State University

New Chamber chairman is focused on Gainesville's job growth

The planning process that started two years ago brought together hundreds of people in business, government, education and nonprofit agencies — creating the kind of dialogue and new partnerships McIntosh said are needed to overcome today's economic woes.

"That is kind of contrary to what is happening politically on a national level, which is getting pushed down to the local level," said McIntosh, a Realtor by trade. "I'm real proud the chamber is swimming in the opposite direction."

The "collaboratory" — as chamber officials have coined the effort — has produced nearly 20 action plans that address various aspects of economic development.

While much of the attention has been on developing the kind of high-tech companies to keep University of Florida graduates in the community through efforts such as UF's Innovation Square, McIntosh said that just scratches the surface. Another effort aims to improve high school graduation rates "to prepare the workforce for the kind of jobs we want."

McIntosh has been involved in job efforts as a board member of FloridaWorks, the workforce agency for Alachua and Bradford counties. He is also active with the local builders association, M&S Bank board and Gainesville Multiple Listings Service.

The common denominator with each is an interest in improving Gainesville's economy.

He recalls that when the Council for Economic Outreach — the economic development arm of the chamber — was formed in the early 1990s, former Gainesville Sun Publisher John Fitzwater said of local businesses that all ships rise with the tide.

Ever since, he said, "I've had an interest in how do we help all ships rise with the Gainesville tide."

"I'm a big fan of small businesses and local businesses because that's where job growth is."

McIntosh was installed as the chairman Thursday at the chamber's annual banquet, taking over for Eric Godet of Godet Industries International.

He said he will bring his pragmatic approach to solving problems to the chamber.

"I'm not the smartest guy in the room, and I'm not the best personality in the room ... I believe that if we can just keep talking to each other long enough, put all of our differences aside and let's figure out where we can find some common ground, then we can start to build."

McIntosh was working for a decorative light manufacturer in Lawrenceville, Ga., when he and his wife, Jennifer, decided to return to her hometown. He soon joined his in-laws, Ed and Jan Baur, in the family real estate business.

Baur and Trendy Realty — founded in 1973 by George Kirkpatrick and Betsy Whitaker — merged in the early 1990s, and McIntosh became managing partner in 1994 before buying out three other partners' interests over the years. After merging with several other smaller realty firms, he now leads 70 Prudential Trend Realty associates in Gainesville and High Springs, and a property management company with 45 community associations and 900 rental properties.

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