Innovation Square is an exciting proposal

Saw this  today and it piqued my interest…

University of Florida officials today unveiled plans for Innovation Square, a large-scale development capitalizing on university research to be built on Southwest Second Avenue between the UF campus and downtown Gainesville.

The 10-plus-year project is described as “a game-changer” for the entire community.

During a luncheon at Emerson Alumni Hall for more than 150 community leaders, including city and county elected officials, businesspeople and representatives from UF and Santa Fe College, UF President Bernie Machen and Brian Beach, senior vice president for administration and business ventures, laid out a plan for what they described as “a 24/7 live/work/play urban research park environment.”

When it’s finished, Innovation Square will consist of more than 1 million square feet of space on 40 acres. The project is expected to provide 3,000 creative-class jobs. Read more

Yes, this does sound like a Godsend, and a real coup for the University and the local business interests who are backing it. I am for it. I was also glad to read that it would be “predominantly on the tax rolls”.  We certainly need a few more shoulders at the wheel of the local economy and help paying the tax burden. Could it make it easier to sunset the much opposed Fire Services Fee? But that is a digression.

What I think about is how people in East Gainesville may feel about it. They were pretty excited about the GTEC Incubator on Hawthorne Road 10 years ago. It was a harbinger of business development coming to the East side. Instead, people are left asking, “Where are the businesses?”

There are mighty forces at work to bring  jobs and shiny new development to downtown Gainesville. That is a wonderful thing. But who is looking out for the people in East Gainesville? And how can they tell? Their utility rates get higher and their churches are hit with a new tax and another generation passes while plans are waiting to come to fruition. Economic opportunity in East Gainesville should be someone’s priority; someone who asks for their vote on election day.