Mitch Glaeser: Working to retain talent in our local economy

Published: Monday, April 8, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 5, 2013 at 7:08 p.m.

Gainesville is on the world stage, and we are not disappointing! Recently, Sears Holdings Corp. was added to Gainesville's impressive list of business recruitments in recent years.

Sears Holdings joins successes that include SumTotal Systems, which came to Gainesville in 2010 and has created over 200 jobs with plans on hiring 100 more in the next year, and Silver Airways and Mindtree Ltd., which both came in 2012 and are creating 120 and 400 jobs, respectively, in the next few years.

Sears Holdings Corp. is a leading broadline retailer with more than 4,000 full-line and specialty retail stores in the United States and Canada. However, its expansion to Gainesville is focused on the development of its information technology services.

While the Sears Holdings short-term plan is to create an exclusive internship program through the University of Florida, that is just the tip of the iceberg. The “internship program” is actually a Technology Undergraduate Educational Partnership with UF. The partnership will develop a talent pipeline, with the potential to support substantially more local investment and the establishment of Sears here in Gainesville, which will, in turn, create many more full-time jobs locally.

While recruiting a world-renowned business like Sears Holdings is distinguished in of itself, the process of this recruitment tells the story of what businesses are finding out about Gainesville. Through the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce and Council for Economic Outreach's economic development initiative, Innovation Gainesville — which has established a collaboration to build an innovation economy through every aspect of our community — Gainesville has set the bar for businesses looking to get in at the ground floor of innovation development.

Sears officials' initial plan was to establish two to three of these “centers of excellence” throughout the nation, but after visiting the UF and seeing first-hand the collaboration between the university, city and county government, the chamber of commerce and economic development entities, they realized Gainesville was the only place they wanted to be.

We look forward to further strengthening our relationship with Sears Holdings and anxiously await its expansion and further establishment in our community, specifically in UF's Innovation Square.

Our business and community leaders are building an innovation economy that fosters the growth, development and retention of our world-class talent locally and, in the end, Gainesville and Alachua County will prosper. The addition of Sears Holdings is just another chapter in what will be a very long and exciting story of our thriving community's future. The momentum continues to build.

Mitch Glaeser is chair of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and vice president of development for The Emory Group.

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