Santa Fe College’s new Perry Center for Emerging Technologies in Alachua
• Higher education
» With a $2.5-billion budget, more than 13,000 employees and 50,000 students, the University of Florida is the economic behemoth in Gainesville and Alachua County. Research grants alone brought a record $678 million last year, thanks primarily to a 45% increase in federal funding associated with the economic stimulus plan. The 2,000-acre campus houses all disciplines, including major colleges of business, engineering, law and medicine.
» Less well-known is UF's growing east-side campus. UF's investment into east Gainesville began in 2005 with a $7-million upgrade to an old Department of Transportation complex. Several administrative functions have moved there, including human resources, as well as some large engineering labs. The university's future plans gravitate to midtown and east Gainesville.
» Santa Fe College enrolls 24,000 students. Its six centers in Alachua and Bradford counties include a downtown Gainesville location and the new Perry Center for Emerging Technologies in Alachua that offers biotech and biomedicine degrees and training.
Shands is one of the largest medical centers in the Southeast.
» Gainesville's hospitals seem to be on growth hormones, especially along Archer Road's "hospital row" south of the UF campus. Private, non-profit Shands, affiliated with the UF Health Science Center, is one of the largest medical centers in the Southeast. It is Gainesville's second-largest employer, with more than 12,000 workers. In 2009, Shands opened the 500,000-sq.-ft., $400-million Shands Cancer Center and plans to continue growing to the south.
» Also on Archer Road is the third-largest employer in Gainesville, the sprawling Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center, with 4,300 employees who care for 13,500-plus patients a year. The VA also is finishing up a big new patient facility that opens this year with 226 additional beds.
» North Florida Regional Medical Center, a 325-bed facility on the city's west side owned by HCA, recently announced a $58-million expansion that will include a new neonatal intensive-care unit and four-story patient building. The hospital will grow to 445 beds. Construction is scheduled to begin in September.
» Also based in Gainesville, SantaFe HealthCare is the non-profit parent company of AvMed Health Plans, Haven Hospice and SantaFe Senior Living. Formed in the early 1980s, SantaFe employs more than 1,900 around the state, 856 of them in Gainesville.
• Cleaning Up
» At least three local companies have launched around the problem of how to keep hospitals, wounds and workers' hands clean. The largest, Xhale, opened a headquarters building at I-75 in west Gainesville and is marketing its HyGreen "intelligent hand hygiene" system to hospitals around the country.
» Quick-Med Technologies is developing antimicrobial technologies for wound-care dressing, hand sanitizers and other products.
» IrriSept, developed by Dr. Paul Rucinski, a Gainesville emergency room physician, is the only FDA-approved wound-cleansing system containing an anti-microbial agent. The product, by Gainesville biotech startup IrriMax, keeps bacteria from spreading and renders them inert during wound irrigation, with applications from operating rooms to battlefields.
• Insurance services
» Nationwide Insurance is a major Gainesville corporate presence, with 1,300 employees working at its west side campus near I-75. Tower Hill Insurance Group and Florida Farm Bureau also are based here.
GlaxoSmithKline bought Gainesville-based Novamin for $135 million. [Photo:Gene Bednarek]
» With 30 biotech companies, Gainesville/Alachua ranks third in the state, after southeast Florida and Tampa Bay. They range from therapeutic firms such as Applied Genetic Technologies to agricultural companies such as Integrated Plant Genetics and biological device companies such as RTI, NovaBone and AxoGen. The big news last year was Alachua oral healthcare company Novamin's acquisition by GlaxoSmithKline for $135 million. The acquisition helped bolster the area's reputation for biotech but also meant the loss of a key firm and its employees.
AxoGen, founded in 2002, creates products to repair and protect nerves.
» Gainesville has spun off some intriguing internet companies, from biggies such as Grooveshark, a popular music-sharing platform, to newer startups such as Youtorial, recently selected as one of only a handful of companies in the nation to participate in The Kauffman Foundation's startup boot-camp.