Economics is all about the allocation of limited resources. As used here, resource has a broad definition, including anything from raw materials to intellectual capital. The efficient allocation of these various resources is the driving force behind any healthy economy. Another driving force behind any healthy economy is agglomeration.
Currently, there are two areas of significant tech growth locally. One is the area between downtown and the University of Florida campus, which includes Innovation Square, UF’s Florida Innovation Hub and the various startups downtown. The other area is scattered roughly around Interstate 75 in northern Alachua County. In a recent Gainesville Sun article, esteemed economist and professor David Denslow refers to this as a “tech barbell.” If Plum Creek were to happen, we would have a “tech triangle,” as Denslow put it.
Denslow suggests the arrival of Plum Creek would greatly enhance economic agglomeration locally. What does this mean? Agglomeration occurs when the parts of the whole are able to benefit from each other’s existence. In this way, each entity is able to accomplish more together than they would separately. Why? It all boils down to environment. With a major research university in the area, knowledge and labor easily flow – and having three hubs to flow between instead of two greatly increases economic value. Again, agglomeration is key in a growing economy.
Perhaps Plum Creek would be great for our local economy. However, economic gain is only one piece of the equation. What impact would Plum Creek have on the environment? This question raises serious concerns and is not being taken lightly by anybody. Specifically, people are concerned with water usage. Adding 60,000 acres of development to any area is sure to have water consequences. Not many are more aware of this than those at Plum Creek who are working tirelessly to ensure a sustainable environmental footprint. Plum Creek is at the forefront of developing creative ways to minimize their water usage. As evidence of this, a study conducted by UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences found that a typical single family residence in Plum Creek might consume as little as 50 percent of those in comparable dwellings built in recent years. These are projections, and unfortunately many aren’t sold on these dazzling numbers.
Many oppositions seem to be coming from a place of misinformation. For curious and/or concerned citizens, Envision Alachua is a great resource for information on the project. A Gainesville Chamber supported initiative by Plum Creek, Envision Alachua is dedicated to transparently transmitting information about the project. They’ve already held several public forums with more on the way. These forums seek to educate citizens on the project and to give citizens a chance to address their concerns. For information and a schedule, visit http://www.envisionalachua.com/.
See below for full articles about Plum Creek, or click here for more Front Street news...
Plum Creek's plan to slash water usage - The Gainesville Sun
Our chance to create a tech triangle - The Gainesville Sun