Pizza, beer and innovation filled the old Firestone building on University Avenue on Thursday evening.
More than 70 students registered for the fourth Tech Hobnob, a career fair where about 17 local tech companies showcased inventions and recruited UF students, said Alyssa Brown, the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce communications director.
James Hartig, a co-founder of the software startup Admiral, said the city is becoming a center on innovation.
“People are starting to say that Gainesville is the hip place to be for startups in the Southeast,” he said.
Hosted by the Chamber of Commerce’s Tech Council and SharpSpring, a local automated marketing startup, the event aimed to persuade graduating students to stay in Gainesville.
Alexa Kuk, a 19-year-old UF computer science sophomore, said she went to find an internship.
“It’s really great that the startup companies are giving opportunities to students,” Kuk said.
Susan Davenport, the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, said the event started more than a year ago. She said it’s an effort to advance the economy through the Transforming Greater Gainesville plan.
“It’s a five-year, $6 million initiative that will continue to help local businesses,” Davenport said.
As UF continues to advance academically, Davenport said, it’s crucial for the community to employ talented people from the university.
“UF is going to be a top-10 public university soon,” she said. “So we have to be a top-10 community.”