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ALACHUA – Economic development is not a new concept in Alachua. As the second largest municipality in the county, the City of Alachua has been in the forefront the state’s burgeoning biotechnology industry as well as home to several large distribution centers and associated support businesses. But while the biotech hub is located along U.S. Highway 441 and the distribution centers are located in proximity to Interstate 75, the City of Alachua is now turning its economic development efforts to Main Street and the downtown area.

What began with a workshop in January spearheaded by the City of Alachua has now resulted in a draft market study and economic development plan for the downtown area. Redevelopment Management Associates (RMA) was retained by the City to develop strategies for downtown economic development. In addition to the workshop, the firm conducted a survey of local business owners to gain insights into existing conditions and ways to improve the business climate throughout the city and downtown.

The City of Alachua City Commission and RMA will be holding a public workshop on June 13 to present a draft market study and economic development implementation plan for Main Street and the Community Redevelopment Area.

Some of the issues raised at the January workshop included possible ways that traffic along U.S. 441 could be directed to the business district in downtown Alachua; the creation of adequate parking; better signage; how to maintain foot traffic on Sundays when some stores are closed; removing stop signs on Main Street; modifications to city codes to encourage shorter business startup times; and ways to help keep retail buildings from being rented out as office space. Additional issues and suggestions were submitted through the survey process as well.

Kevin Crowder, Director of Economic Development at RMA said at the January workshop that the timeline for his firm’s work would be to complete a market assessment by the end of February followed by development of an action plan.

The June 13 workshop will be held at 3 p.m. at Alachua City Hall in the Commission Chambers, 151 NW 142nd Terrace, Alachua. Interested parties are encouraged to attend.

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