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Inclusive Gainesville is a community-wide approach to equitable economic development and inclusion
Gainesville, Fla.—Greater Gainesville stakeholders joined together Thursday to launch Inclusive Gainesville, a community-wide approach to equitable economic development and inclusion, at the Cade Museum.
Focusing on two core areas—Workforce Development and Supplier Diversity—and spearheaded by the Greater Gainesville Chamber, this initiative is a culmination of numerous conversations, sessions and studies to understand the economic inequities that exist across Gainesville.
“It is rare that your ideas are met with an immediate and enthusiastic ‘yes,’” said Kathey Porter, founder/principal of Porter Brown Associates and Inclusive Gainesville advisor. “For Inclusive Gainesville, it was an immediate and enthusiastic ‘count us in,’ which is a testament to our community’s desire and vested interest in creating equitable solutions and improving the quality of life for historically marginalized residents.”
Local partners launching Inclusive Gainesville are: Charles Perry Partners, Inc. (CPPI); Infotech; The InterMed Group; North Florida Regional Medical Center (NFRMC); Oelrich Construction; Ology Bioservices; and Porter Brown Associates.
“As board chair for the Greater Gainesville Chamber, I am excited to work together to raise up opportunity for everyone in our community,” said Gil Levy, senior vice president for VyStar Credit Union. “The equity problems we have in this region were well documented by UF’s BEBR report back in 2018 [Understanding Racial Inequity in Alachua County, Bureau of Economic and Business Research, 2018] and of course this was well before a worldwide pandemic brought laser-focus to our systemic inequity problems. What the BEBR report did conclude, however, was that there are two areas of focus that can effect long-term change for the better: jobs and education. With Inclusive Gainesville, we are focusing on both. Advocacy initiatives will help increase employability skills, networking opportunities will build the available workforce and the accelerator will create a foundation to build new and diverse businesses.”
Inclusive Gainesville includes:
Support for stakeholder businesses looking for guidance, focusing on following diversity best practices, adopting equitable practices and processes and building a more equitable workforce
A signature initiative called the Inclusive Gainesville Minority Business Accelerator (IGMBA), a comprehensive program designed to help minority businesses gain more traction doing business with other Gainesville businesses and stakeholders
Matchmaking activities that connect graduates of the IGMBA program with stakeholder companies
“As an entrepreneur, I understand what it takes to not only start a business, but to sustain a business—which is most important. And what you need is opportunity and the opportunity to grow to that next level,” said Markesia Akinbami, CEO of Ducere Construction Services.
Akinbami met Eric Drummond, CPPI senior project manager, five years ago at a University of Florida mentor/protégé event, and the two have been working together ever since.
“It’s not about having just one opportunity,” confirms Drummond. “It’s about providing that one opportunity and then leveraging that to create more opportunities. And the biggest success will not be from any particular project, but from the relationships that are created. There is no secret sauce to this. It’s the commitment and drive to create access and opportunity for minority-owned businesses to be part of the system.”
“This community has many wonderful assets that make Gainesville a great place to start a business, raise a family and build a life,” concludes Eric Godet, president and CEO of the Greater Gainesville Chamber. “And this is the beginning of moving forward with Inclusive Gainesville. Today represents the commitment and excitement our business community has to help everyone be part of the abundant opportunities we have here. We look forward to more partners joining in. Let’s go, Greater Gainesville!”
The Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce has been the voice of business in the Gainesville area since 1924. Representing over 1,300 members that employ more than 80,000 people, the Chamber is leading the effort to make the Gainesville region a global hub for talent, innovation and opportunity. The Chamber is 5-Star Accredited by the United States Chamber of Commerce, putting it in the top 1% of all Chambers nationwide. Learn more at www.GainesvilleChamber.com or call us at 352.334.7100.
About Porter Brown Associates
Porter Brown Associates is a Florida-based minority, woman, veteran-owned, DBE training and professional services firm specializing in entrepreneurship and workforce development training, and diversity, equity and inclusion consulting for clients across various public and private sectors.