Gainesville led the country in employment growth in 1995. It was a place where you could work in town, live in the wilderness and have a maximum 30-minute commute. A typical three-bedroom cost just $82,000. The University of Florida and its 50,000 students were, and remain, central to Gainesville's job boom and identity.
Today unemployment is still low and the city is in the throes of a go-green campaign; Gainesville Regional Utilities is the efficiency leader of all Florida utilities, drastically reducing customers' energy usage. And despite expansion in outlying communities, the city has largely escaped the overbuilding that plagues much of Florida.
Two things Gainesville hasn't escaped: housing-price escalation and crime. That $82,000 house will cost you $200,000 today. And the city has seen an uptick in crime, particularly drug-related incidents. On the upside, everybody knows the Gators now; Florida's football team won the national championship this year, and the basketball team grabbed the same title for the second year in a row.
Biggest development since 1995: In 2006 the university received funding for a new center to fight infectious diseases, opened a genetics research complex and treated its first patients at its new Proton Therapy Institute in nearby Jacksonville.