Business Florida 2014 - The Regions
North Central Florida
Alachua, Gainesville, Jasper, Lake City, Ocala, Perry
Biotech firms in Alachua are growing:
• Nanotherapeutics will add 150 jobs and 145,000 square feet after landing a U.S. Department of Defense contract worth up to $360 million over 10 years to develop drugs to counteract the effects of bioterrorism and radioactive exposure.
• With the acquisition of Pioneer Surgical Technology in 2013, RTI Biologics added metals and synthetics to its portfolio of surgical implants and changed its name to RTI Surgical. Next up: construction of a 41,000-sq.-ft. Logistics and Technology Center in 2014.
• Applied Genetic Technologies (AGTC) has secured $37.5 million in financing to continue its research and development of gene therapies for treatment of rare retinal diseases.
North Central is home to three busy incubators providing small business support:
• The Ocala Power Plant is nearly at capacity with 13 resident and three affiliate companies. Among its success stories: DS MediaLabs, a developer of mobile phone apps, where sales grew from $100,000 in 2011 to $1.2 million in 2012.
• Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator in Alachua was named "world’s best university biotech incubator" by the Swedish-based research group UBI and "2013 Incubator of the Year" by the National Business Incubation Association.
• Florida Innovation Hub and its surrounding community — Innovation Square — in downtown Gainesville marked a full year of operation with a new tenant: CurtCo Robb Media, publisher of the luxury consumer guide Robb Report, will recruit software engineers, social networkers and other technology-savvy employees for its shift to more digital products. Since its opening, the Hub has contributed to the creation of 250 jobs.
• Human resources software firm SumTotal Systems, which has hired more than 200 since relocating from Silicon Valley to Gainesville in 2010, will hire another 100 over the next year to serve its growing customer base of 3,500 in nearly 160 countries.
• Boston-based mobile applications developer Mobiquity is expanding into Gainesville with an office at Innovation Square and the promise of 260 jobs over three years.
• Sears Holding Corporation launched its first-ever Technology Undergraduate Educational Partnership in Gainesville in 2013. The 25 UF engineering undergrads selected for internships spent the summer at Sears Holding sites across the U.S., before returning to Gainesville in the fall to continue working on software development for this Fortune 65 integrated retailer.
QUALITY OF LIFE
Relaxed as you want to be North Central is the right combination of bustling urban centers, small towns and picturesque rolling countryside. Paddle the scenic Suwannee or Withlacoochee rivers, hike the Ocala National Forest (be on the lookout for black bears!) or spend time in "old Florida" at historic Cedar Key. Hamilton County is home to the rushing waters of Suwannee River’s Big Shoals State Park, the only white water rapids in the state of Florida. In White Springs, the Stephen Foster State Park hosts the annual Florida Folk Festival, the oldest state-sponsored Folk Festival in the nation.
Artistic and natural attractions There’s indoor fun too. The Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art in Gainesville is one of the nation’s largest university-affiliated art museums. Also in Gainesville, the Florida Museum of Natural History is famous for its butterfly rainforest and Florida fossils.