Meet Board Member Julia Thomas of Oelrich Construction

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Meet Board Member Julia Thomas of Oelrich Construction

As someone who knows that culture cultivates creativity, you can find startGNV board member Julia Thomas on a walking trail, at the UF Innovate Hub Happy Hours, or giving back her time to support innovators at BarCamp. We are lucky to have this marketing maven on our team and can't wait to share her story with you, dear reader. Here's what she had to share.

Tell us a little about yourself. I have been leading marketing and communications efforts for companies – both small, regional, and global, Fortune 20, for nearly 20 years. Nearly 10+ years ago I was introduced to the Innovation Community via efforts spearheaded by the founding members of Gainesville Area Innovation Network (GAIN), which has since evolved into startGNV.

Tell us about your work at Oelrich Construction and what you most love about Oelrich. As the Marketing and Business Development Manager with Oelrich Construction, I have the honor of working with our talented team to build some of the most iconic projects in Gainesville and Orlando. The reason I joined Oelrich Construction is the same reason I love it – our team leads with integrity and is focused on providing a quality project for our clients.

How did you find out about startGNV and how long you’ve been on the board? I have been familiar with startGNV since it evolved from GAIN a few years ago. I was re-introduced to startGNV by the talented team at UF Innovate – Karl LaPan, Jennifer Harrell, Elliott Welker, Lauren Asmus. These professionals are at the forefront of innovation in the community so when they each spotlighted how startGNV has been a supportive arm of the innovation community I knew I wanted to get involved to help provide that support. I have been on the Board for about six months.

What do you love about the Gainesville innovation ecosystem? The Gainesville ecosystem is, arguably, considered a “hotbed of innovation.” In large part, I believe this is due to the innovators who drive ideation under a heightened focus that anything impossible is possible. The fact that the ecosystem provides the resources for innovators to be innovative is what I love about the ecosystem. The fact that the culture cultivates creativity means ideas are always blooming.

The Cade Museum in Gainesville is one of many iconic projects by Oelrich Construction

What do you hope to see in the ecosystem for the future? I hope to see continued growth. At present, I see this coming from continued investment in keeping talent local and attracting talent from hubs such as Boston, San Francisco, and the Research Triangle.

What are the best things about living and working in Gainesville? At first Gainesville may be viewed as a “college or healthcare town”, but if offers so much more. It provides an urban-suburban mix feel complimented by some Southern charm. Aside from the unique food options, the access to outdoor activities – springs, walking trails, nature preserves – makes it an ideal place to live.

Any suggestions for someone who’d like to get involved in the innovation scene here? Reach out to a company where you would like to learn more or get involved. Be prepared to talk to the CEO and learn more about what makes them tick. The innovation scene in Gainesville is welcoming, supportive, and celebrates diverse chains of thought.