Once reliant on its sausage plant, Alachua's economy is now diverse, high-tech

The market for commercial real estate in Gainesville, Florida has come a long way from a town reliant on its sausage plant. Alachua is now home to many innovative start ups and technology centers such as Progress Corporate Park and Innovation Square. Biotech companies, among others, in Gainesville, Florida continue to grow as well as the Alachua economy and the market for commercial real estate.

From The Gainesville Sun:

Once reliant on its sausage plant, Alachua's economy is now diverse, high-tech
By Anthony Clark | Business editor

Forty years ago, the city of Alachua was largely a one-company town. Nearly 500 people worked at Copeland Sausage.

The small town was devastated when the sausage plant closed in 1978, said Mayor Gib Coerper, who moved to Alachua in 1974. Copeland Sausage accounted for more than 40 percent of the town's utility revenues and half of the tax revenue, he said.

Downtown buildings were boarded up in the years after Copeland closed.

"The city literally came real close to shutting down," Coerper said.

Coerper credits prior city leaders with making hard decisions to diversify the town's economy, luring businesses with connections to water and sewer lines, tax breaks and commercial zoning. The city's boundaries grew through voluntary annexations that took in new and existing businesses.

Today, Alachua is home to three distribution centers in close proximity to Interstate 75, as well as a handful of electrical and industrial manufacturers.

The town has also benefited from the University of Florida's decision in the early 1980s to acquire hundreds of acres on the south side of the city, including the Copeland property, as a place to develop companies to commercialize research inventions, particularly in biotechnology.

Since the first building opened in 1987, Progress Corporate Park has grown to about 20 buildings housing 30 companies that employ 1,200 people, including nearly 1,000 at UF spinoff companies.

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Virginia MacKoul

Virginia is a graduate from the University of Florida's College of Design Construction and Planning with a degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment, and a minor in Urban Regional Planning. Virginia joined the Front Street team in 2011, as an intern. Upon graduation, Virginia joined the Front Street team full-time as the Director of Client Services. Ms. MacKoul’s addition furthers Front Street’s continued growth and expansion within Gainesville and other North Central Florida markets. She was promoted to Director of Marketing in 2014 and now manages the firm’s team of interns and oversees all marketing and branding activity. Virginia was born in Boston and moved to Lee County, Florida in 1997. Virginia graduated her high school's International Baccalaureate program and started at the University of Florida with a focus on Architecture. Virginia shares Front Street's passion of giving back to the community and those in need. Virginia's hobbies include photography, cooking, football, movies, music, and spending time with her dog, Brinkley.

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