Scott praises Gainesville's job-creating success


Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks during the Council for Economic Outreach Investors Luncheon at the Mark's Prime steakhouse in downtown Gainesville Wednesday.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 5:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 5:05 p.m.

After shoveling dirt at a groundbreaking in Alachua and attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony in downtown Gainesville on Wednesday morning, Gov. Rick Scott spoke at a luncheon where he told local business leaders that the Gainesville community is "doing very, very well" in its focus on creating jobs.

The governor, who made jobs his No. 1 campaign issue, talked about his efforts that have led to lower business taxes, fewer regulations and a faster state permitting process.

He also spoke of his support for funding to help the University of Florida become a top 10 public university and the need to team up its talent with the private sector.

"If you do that, you'll have so many jobs in the area," he said.

Scott offered his continued help recruiting companies to the area — saying he calls businesses almost every day — and addressing any obstacles to job creation in state government.

"If I can help at the state level, I will," he said.

Scott's comments came during the Council for Economic Outreach Investors Luncheon at Mark's Prime Steakhouse in downtown Gainesville, with more than 80 people in attendance. The council is the economic development branch of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, and investors include businesses that have funded its business retention, expansion and recruitment efforts.

The luncheon followed a 9 a.m. groundbreaking for Nanotherapeutics' new $135 million facility in Alachua that promises to add 95 new jobs for 150 total. It also followed an 11 a.m. ribbon-cutting in downtown Gainesville for Philadelphia-based marketing company 160over90's new office. The company plans to hire 35 people and invest $500,000 in the office.

Wednesday's announcements exceeded in one day the Council for Economic Outreach's five-year goal announced in 2010 to bring $5 million in capital investments. The goal was part of the council's Momentum 2015 plan that included creating 1,200 new jobs.

Council Chairman John Carlson of Charles Perry Partners Inc. noted that the five-year goals had been reached after 2 years.

Scott referred to some of the prior announcements he was involved in, including new offices for Mindtree with plans to create 400 jobs and Mobiquity with 260 jobs, and Prioria Robotics' expansion plans with 40 new jobs.

Carlson said the council declared Momentum 2015 a success and asked for investors' support for a new plan to be unveiled in early 2014 that promises to be more ambitious.

Carlson compared economic development efforts early in the campaign to minor league baseball. At the time, the council had eight to 12 prospect companies interested in the community, compared with more than 40 today.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we just moved into the major leagues," he said.

"We are in a group of players now on a national level that's a different group of people, it's a different group of cities, a different group of communities that we are now competing with than we were five years ago."

UF President Bernie Machen said the university has a great relationship with the community and has been a partner in Momentum 2015 because expanding professional opportunities helps the university's mission.

"I have to have a vibrant, energetic, innovative university town around us if we're going to be able to attract the best and brightest people here and have them see Gainesville as a destination and not just a stopover," he said.

Santa Fe College President Jackson Sasser credited the chamber and council with convening the community around its economic development plan and building momentum long after the initial kickoff.

"I can't tell you how uncommon that is," Sasser said.

He also pointed to the role of a nationally ranked community college and a nationally ranked university to provide a continuum of education and training for the workforce as part of that plan.

"It's just a rare moment for the community," Sasser said.

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