Ron Cunningham: Who are we?


Published: Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 12:03 a.m.

Eric Adelson is an expert.

It says so right at the top of the column he writes for Yahoo Sports.

So when Adelson says that Will Muschamp’s old-school style of football is perfect for Gainesville, you gotta believe him.

“It kind of fits, really,” he wrote this week, “as Gainesville isn’t exactly Las Vegas (or even Oxford, Mississippi). It’s a blue-collar town that’s far more South Georgia than South Beach.”

Really, Eric?

I’ve never heard our little academic oasis — you know, the place being touted as the next Silicon Valley — called “blue collar.”

Not to pick on Adelson, but this question about what outsiders think they know about us is more critical than ever.

Some may know us as the birthplace of Gatorade and Tom Petty. Some think Tebow Town, or the city that Urban Meyer ran away from.

And, say, isn’t this where that Terry Jones guy lives?

Good grief!

But who really cares what the rest of the world thinks it knows about us?

Well, say you’re some hot-shot venture capitalist in Boston, wondering if Gainesville’s emerging innovation economy is worth throwing money at.

Or you’re an Internet boy wonder in Berkeley, and you’re being recruited by one of the brash start-ups tucked away in one of the McGurn buildings downtown.

Either way, you’re going to ask: Gainesville who?

And Google is just a modern day Tower of Babel, with a million and one answers.

Listen, we’ve got to tell our own story. Control our own narrative.

Enter GainesvilleConnect.com, the latest Innovation Gainesville initiative, which will have its official launch Tuesday.

Call it one-stop information shopping for anybody who wants to know pretty much everything there is to know about our community, our region, our pursuits, passions and quality of life.

“The competition is so fierce among this next generation of small, bright, tech city centers! All vying to jump out front and become the next hot spot,” says Annie Pais, director of Florida’s Eden who, with collaborator Stewart Thomas, is the prime architect and creative force behind GainesvilleConnect.com.

“With this site we are positioning ourselves to champion all of the truly progressive reasons why Gainesville has a high quality of life,” she adds. “We’ll communicate who we are, what defines and distinguishes us here in this remarkable place.”

That’s a tall order. What helps is the fact that some 25 partners — from Shands to Santa Fe College to the Gainesville Sports Commission to the Harn — are providing support and content and linking their own sites to GainesvilleConnect.com.

Jane M. Muir, director of UF’s Innovation Hub, says “it will be an extremely useful tool for all of us who interact almost daily with both internal and external constituents who want to learn more about what makes Gainesville such a hotbed of innovation.”

An important thing to know about GainesvilleConnect is that it’s a work in progress; it will paint an ever more complex portrait of who we are and what we are about as more contributors add content.

Who are we? Funny you should ask. Not South Beach, but not Valdosta either.

Let us tell you all about us.

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