North Central Florida’s economy is growing at a significant rate, particularly in Gainesville and Ocala. Due in part to the relatively high education in the area and the innovative University of Florida, several business sectors are continuing to expand.
In Gainesville visible growth is everywhere, from logistics to technology and everything in between. One example is the Gainesville regional airport which served over 217,000 passengers in 2015 (up 2% from 2014, and more than any other year recorded).
Possibly more visible than logistics, is Gainesville’s technological growth. At the center is the University of Florida, which received $706.8 million in research grants in 2015, (a 30% increase in funds since 2005-2006) as well as $315 million in donations. Private companies have begun to increase their presence it Gainesville as well. Companies like VANAD and FEATHR, two cloud based technology firms have even decided to establish national headquarters in Gainesville rather than relocating to a major technology hub.
Gainesville’s healthcare industry is also expanding. UF’s Shands Hospital, recently ranked among the top 50 in pediatric specialties (cancer, cardiology/heart surgery, diabetes and endocrinology, gastroenterology, neonatology, nephrology, neurology/neurosurgery, pulmonology and urology) is set for a $20.7 million addition to its neonatal intensive care unit to be completed in 2017.
Similar Growth can also be seen in Ocala, particularly in the logistics and healthcare sectors. Fedex’s recently opened $180 million distribution center in the Ocala/Marion Commerce Park supplies 350 jobs and is expected to double in size to nearly 1,000,000 square feet. Similarly, Paramount Transportation Logistics Services (part of the Roberts family of companies) will be creating 200 jobs in the area by adding a 266,000 square foot facility.
Ocala’s healthcare industry is also seeing a boost. Ocala Health, a $10 million 10,500 square foot freestanding 24/7 emergency medical services center is on the way, with 40 full-time healthcare professionals set to serve 15,000 patients annually.
Whether it’s the development of the new 10 story mixed use “Standard” adjacent to UF’s campus, or a $2 million investment from HAECO (an aircraft firm) in Lake City, growth across North Central is at healthy levels.
Written by Front Street Intern Rex Warner.