Danny understands that supporting the community is of paramount importance and the lifeblood of success.
Over the past three decades, he has championed many efforts to improve his hometown of Ocala, the state of Florida, and the United States.
Danny has served on numerous public, private and non-profit organizations. In 2018, Governor Rick Scott nominated Danny to serve on UCF’s board of trustees. He was also recognized for his contribution to help expand and diversify Florida’s economy through job creation, and was instrumental in the “One Million Jobs” growth achievement for the state of Florida from 2010 to 2015.
"I knew when I chose Ocala to be my family's home that I would contribute to make it a revitalized and vibrant city."
Danny’s service on the board of “Visit Florida” helped establish a goal of 100 million tourists which was accomplished in 2007. During the first three months of 2019, Florida achieved an all-time record for visitors in any quarter, drawing more than 35 million visitors for the first time ever, a 5.8 percent increase compared to the first quarter of 2018.
Danny’s vision is for Ocala to become a revitalized destination attracting new visitors. In the late 1980’s to early 1990’s, downtown Ocala experienced hard times as a result of the 80’s economic crash and poor economy. It was essentially boarded up. But in 2018, his vision came to life when he broke ground in downtown Ocala on a development project featuring a premium hotel with three restaurants, residential apartments and retail shops. The new Hilton Garden Inn is going up in the historic city square and due to open January 2020. The last hotel operating in that area was demolished nearly 60 years ago.
Danny is also the leading force in the evolution of “The Villages,” 350-acre mixed-use development in Ocala that includes 1,100 residential lots, 300 apartments and a four-acre commercial area. The Villages is one of the fastest growing communities in the United States.
Another revitalization effort involves Danny’s recent purchase of the Church Street Exchange Building in Orlando, along with Orlando businessman Robert Yeager of Sullivan Properties. Danny stated, “this is the perfect place to start something new. It’s easy to find, and it’s iconic in my heart. I lived in Orlando in the 1980s, when Church Street was big.”
From the time that Danny and his wife Manisha landed in the United States in 1987, they began living his entrepreneurial dream with the purchase of his first convenience store in Orlando. He grew and ultimately sold his chain of 26 convenience stores located throughout Florida. Over the last three decades, Danny has built over a dozen small- and medium-sized organizations that include convenience stores, real estate development, hotels, restaurants and IT consulting companies located domestically and internationally.
Fittingly, in recognition of his tireless and inspirational support for the community, Danny was honored in 2019 by Ocala Magazine as the “2018 Person of the Year.”
"Entrepreneur Danny Gaekwad and other Indian Americans in Florida raised $100,000 for a fund to help victims of Hurricane Ian, which hit the state late last month. The Florida Disaster Fund was run by First Lady Casey DeSantis."