The 5 year plan to make Gainesville a global competitor

The Council for Economic Outreach, Gainesville’s economic development agency, has revealed a five year plan that targets growth in specific industries, and the promise to recruit more companies that will triple the number of jobs in the previous plan. Front Street Managing Director, Nick Banks is not only involved with the Council for Economic Outreach, but is a Board member for the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce. The council announced their plan to CEO investors during a luncheon at Mark’s Prime Steakhouse. Todd Powell of Plum Creek Timber Company will be the chair of a $6 million fundraising campaign started by an arm of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce. Donations are expected to reach $3.2 million from current investors. The new plan will create 3,500 jobs and add $1 billion in regional infrastructure investments.

Momentum 2015, the council’s last plan, included 1,200 jobs and $5 million in capital investments. In two and a half years, the council surpassed its goals for Momentum 2015 allowing them to kick off their five year planning process early. Since last March, CEO investors are working with 30% more companies, potential jobs have increased by more than 4,000, and potential capital investment is $337 million. CEO is now working with 48 companies to help with retention, expansion, and recruitment projects. Gainesville based company, Optym, has committed to add 100 jobs and spend $5 million to renovate a building. Four other companies along with Optym have announced local commitments this year. The highlights of the recently revealed plan includes competing against bigger cities by recruiting companies to the broader region, targeting specific industries that have an advantage in this region, partnering with CareerSource to develop skills for available job opportunities, addressing public policy, workforce issues, jobs for all education levels and regional investments, and involving more active stakeholders to present a united front for economic development.

There are some concerns; there’s a perception that the region is too small to compete as a global player, there’s also a need for more management level talent, and more buildings with flexible space. Ed Braddy, the Gainesville Mayor, has said “the city government has made a lot of progress in finding common ground with the business community” and the concerns listed are being addressed.  Braddy along with chamber members and staff have planned upcoming recruiting trips to Chicago, Silicon Valley, and New York to meet companies and site consultants. We couldn’t be more thrilled and excited for this plan of action and can’t wait to see what’s in store for this great city. 


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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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