Dr. J. Wayne Reitz Leadership Award

FloridaWorks Executive director, chair honored with leadership award

FloridaWorks board of directors Chairman Ken McGurn and Executive Director Angela Pate were honored Jan. 29 at the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting with the Dr. J.Wayne Reitz Leadership Award.

Each year the Council for Economic Outreach, Alachua County’s economic development body, gives the award to someone in the community who has taken a prominent role in furthering economic development efforts in Alachua County.

“For the past several years, the needs of the business community have been met by those involved in our community’s work force efforts,” CEO Vice President Ann Colette said.

“Several partners and individuals . . . have worked to make a difference and we thought the best way to recognize those efforts was to honor those who are leading charge.”

This award is particularly significant because of changes FloridaWorks has undergone since 2006. After enduring numerous management changes and budget cuts for several years—ones that a consultant likened to the Delta Airlines cuts in 2005—the organization shifted to an industry-led supply and demand approach to customer services.

This is a significant time for FloridaWorks. The country will be receiving at least $2 billion in federal work force funds, and the Alachua Bradford Regional Work Force Board will be responsible for distributing a portion of these funds. This is a one-time infusion of money over the next two years.

“FloridaWorks is serving almost three times the businesses and people than just a few years ago,” McGurn said.

“We are doing it with about half the state and federal funds that we had five years ago. We are reforming this state bureaucracy to operate like an efficient business.”

Pate said the collaboration between workforce and economic development is more important now than ever.

“The regions that bring economic development, education and employment services together that will have the most success in leveraging their resources,” Pate said.

“The partnership between FloridaWorks and the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, CEO and the North Florida Regional Chamber of Commerce, along with a myriad of other local and state organizations, has provided the critical mass to keep jobs growing and unemployment down.”

The Alachua Bradford region has the best job growth rate in the state month after month and has consistently one of the lowest unemployment rates in Florida.

FloridaWorks is the new name for the Alachua Bradford Regional Work Force Board, and its mission is, “Everybody works . . . Growing business and jobs through a skilled workforce.”

J. Wayne Reitz was the president of the University of Florida from 1955 to 1967. Reitz guided the university through an era of extensive change and engineering transformations that led to the university’s emergence as one of the nation’s paramount public research universities.