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Fed Addresses Local Investment at Economic Outreach Luncheon

Written By: Chris Eversole

The Fed keeps an eye on the Greater Gainesville area, and it has noticed one blemish on the area’s economic profile; the philanthropic investment aimed at helping people economically is about half the national average.

An official of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta delivered that message Monday (June 20) to investors of the Council for Economic Outreach’s at Mark’s Prime Steakhouse.

The philanthropic investment is $13.60 per capital, and most of it is in direct services – as opposed to capital investment – said Will Lambe, the Atlanta Fed’s senior community and economic development adviser.

“The investment is tilted to a short-term aim more than long-term gain,” Lambe said.

Private and public funding are keys to improvement, he said. “For the airplanes of capital to land, subsidy is an important ingredient.”

In a round-table discussion after the luncheon, local leaders pointed to progress.

The Community Foundation of North Central Florida is creating a lending pool to back projects that don’t qualify for bank loans, said Mitch Glaeser, who chairs the foundation’s board and is a local developer.

In addition, the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency is working with private developers to build a new headquarters for a company in East Gainesville, noted Susan Davenport, president and CEO of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.

The construction will allow the Mérieux, which has acquired local company ABC Research Holding Co., to grow from 70 to 100 employees, Davenport noted.

The two new buildings that will serve Mérieux will anchor the CRA’s Cornerstone project, which has the goal of becoming a 10-building campus on land that includes the Gainesville Technology Entrepreneurship Center (GTEC).

The community benefits from Santa Fe College’s responsiveness to job-training needs, noted CEO Chair Rory Causseaux, who also is the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Board Chair-elect and founded consulting firm CHW. Recent examples include developing programs to meet the needs of the insurance industry and LifeSouth Community Blood Centers.

Local government is lagging behind in programs boosting economic opportunity, said Chamber Treasurer Kevin Monroe (who is market vice president for Cox Communications).

“In the four years I’ve been here, I haven’t seen city and county government having the same fervor to partner on solutions that I’ve seen from the business and educational community,” he said.

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