I can’t think of a better place to start a business than Gainesville.
When my business partner and I started here more than 25 years ago, it was the location that drew us. Geographically we’re at the hub of a wheel–just two hours from Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa–so we had easy access to a large part of the state.
But that practicality aside, the reason we’ve stayed is the people. To grow a company, the number one thing you need is talent. And we have an incredible world-class talent pool here, with University of Florida and Santa Fe College. We’re lucky to be in a city so focused on education and research, and that translates directly into the caliber of candidate we get here.
Plus, the support for our businesses here is tremendous. When we began our business, Gainesville didn’t have a lot of resources for entrepreneurship, but that’s all changed. There’s a huge start-up community here, and it’s just continuing to grow.
And the cities and towns around us are part of that growth, building their own platforms for new businesses to flourish. I’ve lived here since I was 5 years old, and I’ve seen Gainesville evolve. When I was growing up, we didn’t have a mall or North Florida Regional hospital or a lot of the other landmarks we have here now, but Gainesville is set up to encourage advancement, and that’s exactly what’s happened. I’m amazed by all the new construction we have around us— not just offices or retail spaces, but parks and schools and homes.
But despite that, Gainesville remains one of the most livable cities I’ve experienced. It’s a great place to raise a family, and a great place to live at every stage of life. I have a 10-minute commute to work. And there are so many avenues here for culture and entertainment that I have access to the best of bigcity amenities. Plus, as a designated “Tree City,” Gainesville is a beautiful place. We live in this jewel, with rivers and prairies and world-famous springs.
As other innovation-focused cities like Silicon Valley get oversaturated, companies will need to look elsewhere, and I expect a lot of them will recognize the value of putting down roots here. With no state income tax, a steady population growth and a low cost of living, Florida is a natural choice. And Gainesville’s strong entrepreneurial bent means companies can take advantage of the networking, mentorship and resource sharing we enjoy here now.
Our community works. I’ve seen companies go from small, struggling start-ups to thriving multi-million dollar companies, and I know that’s at least in part because of the network they can lean on here. Like so many business owners here, I believe in paying it forward. I made mistakes along the way on my professional journey, and if I can help other entrepreneurs learn from my experiences and avoid those pitfalls, they can get to where they’re going a little faster.
When I think of Gainesville, I think of what Sister Hazel native Drew Copeland sang: “Where I come from, it’s a little like heaven.”
I’m in love with this place.
Rich Blaser is the co-founder and co-CEO of Infinite Energy and a partner with Mitch Glaeser in creating a sustainable live-work-play community called the San Felasco Tech City.