Published: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 1:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 1:59 p.m.
Everything Alachua County has to offer is featured in a new web portal designed to recruit creative and innovative people to the area as part of economic development efforts.
GainesvilleConnect.com officially launched last Tuesday as a project of the nonprofit group Florida's Eden in partnership with local businesses, government, education and arts organizations that provided funding and pledged to use the site for recruitment purposes.
The project was born out of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce's Innovation Gainesville project, which identified the need to communicate the area's attributes.
The site is organized into broad categories that people consider when looking at a community to move to and includes links to local organizations for more information about jobs, real estate, sports, nonprofits, churches, the arts, outdoor recreation, attractions, events calendars and business organizations.
Annie Pais, executive director of Florida's Eden, said she wants to invite talented and creative local people to fill out the site in their areas of expertise over the next year.
Pais started the project after meeting with local leaders through Innovation Gainesville.
"They were the ones who said we have no real enticement recruitment materials that will portray our community in an exciting and dynamic way, tell the wonderful stories that define and distinguish us here so that we can tell those stories to the world, so we can attract and win those investors, top faculty, CEOs, businesses that we seek to attract here," she said.
"The beauty of GainesvilleConnect is that it is one-stop shopping for those who may be considering making the city their new home and for residents who may have forgotten the gems that lie just off the beaten path," said Michael Blachly, director of University of Florida Performing Arts, in a news release.
Fresco Neighborhood Italian closed last week at 3117 SW 34th St. and is preparing to move to a new location, said Mike Davis, one of the owners.
Davis said the restaurant is trying to choose between locations on Tower Road and SW 24th Street and Haile Plantation near Publix. The owners also own Limerock Road Neighborhood Grill in Haile Village.
Davis said they were leaving because of "landlord problems" after more than five years in the University Towne Center, including higher rent.
MaeBelle's Country Cuisine opened Nov. 25 at 3610 SW 13th St. in the former Merlion restaurant, serving Southern cooking for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Catering and delivery are available.
MaeBelle's also hosts live entertainment Thursday through Saturday.
The Red Mango frozen yogurt near Fresco and another in the Target Copy Center on University Avenue closed just before Thanksgiving. The location in The Oaks Mall remains open.
Franchisee Terri Keogh said business was good but that she and her family tried to sell the three stores because they are focused on a new business venture.
Keogh is the daughter of Bernadette Castro. The family relaunched Castro Convertibles and its Ottoman sofa bed.
A sushi bar kiosk called Taste Express opened in The Oaks Mall on Nov. 14 in front of the Build-A-Bear Workshop.
The 10-foot-by-16-foot kiosk offers sushi rolls and bowls, miso soup and small appetizers such as spring rolls, crab wontons, dumplings and edamame.
Owner Hung Nguyen also operates Taste Sushi Bar & Asian Cuisine — formerly Taste of Saigon — at 4860 NW 39th Ave.
With nearly 10 years in Gainesville, Mi Apa Latin Cafe opened a second location recently in Alachua.
The new location is at 15634 NW U.S. 441, next to Moe's and Domino's Pizza and across from Lowes. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
Mi Apa serves traditional Cuban food and drinks.
The City Plan Board last Monday approved plans for two restaurants with drive-throughs to be built on the site of existing buildings.
Panda Express was approved for the existing Long John Silver's location at 710 NW 60th St. off Newberry Road and Pollo Tropical was approved for the former Atlanta Bread Company building at 3900 Archer Road in Butler Plaza.
In September, the board approved plans for the Brass Tap, a Tampa-based craft beer bar, for the former Sprint store at 3833 Archer Road.
Anthony Clark is the Gainesville Sun business editor.
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.