Looking out for local business

By Anthony Clark l The Gainesville Sun 

As the new chairman of the Business Community Coalition, lawyer John Roscow IV sits at the intersection of three of the largest business organizations in Alachua County to tackle what he calls the "big elephants in the room."

The BCC was formed in 2009 by members of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Gainesville-Alachua County Association of Realtors and the Builders Association of North Central Florida to advocate public policy positions on issues important to the business community.

The big elephants the BCC continues to track include the transportation surtax, energy costs and governance, moving city elections to the fall ballot, the recommendations of the Small Business Task Force to make city government more business friendly, and the ongoing update to the city's land development regulations.

Roscow said it is premature to say the group has a set consensus on any of the ongoing issues.

"Take the transportation surtax as one issue. I think it's very easy for all groups — the BCC and the groups beyond that — to agree that fixing the roads is a necessity," he said. "It's fairly easy to consensus-build over enhancing and improving the existing RTS (bus) system. Obviously, bus rapid transit is the controversial issue, and your consensus begins to wane over that topic."

The BCC advocates a policy position only when it comes to a consensus with the boards of the three business organizations. It then promotes the position to the organizations' members. Its members have written op/ed pieces and letters to the editor.

The BCC also sponsors the Public Leadership Institute to educate businesspeople who might be interested in running for office about how to run a campaign and about issues.

Roscow's involvement in the BCC was a natural progression. When law partner Ron Carpenter became ill prior to his death in 2010, Roscow filled in for him on the builders association. He now serves as co-counsel for both the Realtors' and builders' associations. Last year, he was associate vice president of the builders' association, the highest board seat for a nonbuilder. The BCC chairmanship comes with a seat on the Chamber's board.

Roscow started practicing real estate law in 2003 after he was recruited by Carpenter, a family friend.

"Part of the reason I like real property is I like the art of the deal and the bringing together of various people to meet a common goal," he said.

"Even when I was practicing litigation, I always enjoyed the mediation and creating a successful agreement for the parties more than the going to trial and having a judge determine the facts and the applicable law."

As the son of retired lawyer John Roscow III, his interest in law started early.

"I guess when everybody was asked in kindergarten what they want to be and everybody raised their hand and said ‘fireman' or ‘policeman,' I said ‘lawyer,'" he said. "Aside from a short period of questioning that in undergrad, I basically stuck with the path."

After earning his law degree from the University of Florida in 1998, he went to work as a law clerk at the Scruggs & Carmichael law firm where his father was a partner, working his way up to partner.

He partnered with Carpenter from 2003 until his death in 2010 and then merged practices with Charles "Chic" Holden and Rebekah Kurdziel. Kurdziel recently retired, and the firm added lawyer Jesse Caedington. Carpenter's legacy is recognized in the firm's name — Holden, Carpenter & Roscow.

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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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