Gainesville Ranks 5th Best Small-City For College Students

The American Institute for Economic Research ranked Gainesville No. 5 in the top 20 best small cities for college students. The rankings, released in October, took into account factors like student life, culture, economic health and opportunity.

Steve Orlando, the University of Florida spokesman, said the university, the music scene and locally owned restaurants are what gives Gainesville a vibrant and interesting city culture. “Everything really centers around and caters to students,” he said.

Nicholas Smith, the general manager of The Swamp Restaurant, said his business has been here for 20 years. “Gainesville has everything you need while still being a small town,” he said, “and we’re happy to be a part of it.” He said Gainesville doesn’t feel clustered like other small cities. “You have a mix of outdoor things to do like Paynes Prairie and Lake Wauburg, a great university, great arts scene and, of course, great sports,” he said.

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Nick Banks

Nick created Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group in 2002 and spent the first eight years developing and acquiring office and retail projects in South Florida as well as North Central Florida. In 2010 the focus of the firm was shifted to primarily serve third party clients and perform brokerage, property management and mortgage banking functions. Nick has personally developed and acquired nearly 200,000 square feet of office and retail properties in markets throughout Florida. Prior to founding Front Street, Nick was the Director of Finance and Dispositions for Stiles Corporation in Fort Lauderdale where he financed and sold over $500 million in commercial real estate. Before joining Stiles, Nick was an Associate Director at GE Capital Real Estate where he sourced over $200 million in financing throughout Florida. Nick is a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in Finance and a concentration in Real Estate. He serves as a board member and current vice-chair for the United Way of North Central Florida where he also chairs the Development Committee. Nick is actively involved with the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce where he serves as a board member and committee member for the Council for Economic Outreach. He is also a recent graduate of Leadership Gainesville which is a year long leadership program hosted by the Chamber. He is a member of Grace United Methodist Church where he has served as finance chair and as a member of the leadership council. Nick serves as an advisory board member of the University of Florida Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies. Nick was recently named chair of the Gainesville committee for the North Florida chapter of Urban Land Institute (ULI). He is a licensed real estate broker in the State of Florida and is a long time member of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

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