Transforming Greater Gainesville

Gainesville is getting serious about stepping onto the global stage, and we’re seeing traction. The latest evidence of this comes from the economic development arm of the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, the Council for Economic Outreach. The CEO has just unveiled its robust five year goal for Gainesville and greater Alachua County, which wowed those who remember the previous five year goals that were meek in comparison.

A major component of the plan is to attract, retain or expand 50 companies, creating 3,500 new jobs averaging $53,000 per year in salary. Target companies include those in the advanced logistics, advanced materials, agricultural life sciences, human sciences and software/information technology industries. These are the target industries because of the current local presence, high wages and high potential for growth.

Projects such as Innovation Square, Progress Park and Innovation Hub at UF are examples of the way Gainesville is trying to erect the framework to lure these industries. Additionally, the CEO is aiming to invest $1 billion in regional projects and infrastructure, improving not only Gainesville but the surrounding towns. Investment targets include the Power District, Progress Park, Plum Creek and the Cade Museum. The plan has been described as “bold, but achievable,” and many local leaders are excited about the opportunity. Real progress is never achieved without bold goals, and Gainesville may be just so bold as to put themselves on the global map!

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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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