by Evan Santos, Partner Relations at RealMassive
Downtown Jacksonville has emerged as the region’s Innovation District – a dense urban environment where anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect with start-ups, business incubators and accelerators. Physically compact, transit-accessible, technically-wired and blossoming with arts and culture, Downtown Jacksonville offers the right resources to foster creativity, ideas, collaboration and entrepreneurship.
The recently named “Spark District” was announced December 3rd, 2015 and is a newly established business innovation area along the Northbank of downtown near the Riverwalk. It’s generally near where the annual One Spark, the world’s largest crowdfunding festival, has been held the past three years.
The Spark District is part of a thriving Downtown Jacksonville community, with restaurants, bars, shops, museums, entertainment venues, amenities and events catered to a live/work/play urban lifestyle in the city core. The new district seeks to provide startups with connections, resources and, with time, financial assistance in a concentrated area in the city’s urban core.
The Spark District represents a joint effort between entrepreneurs, Downtown Vision Inc. and other local companies with a focus on innovation, including CoWork Jax, CoLabJax, JaxCoE, StartupJax, JaxBridges, North Florida Inventors Group, Bunker Labs Jax, the DIA and One Spark.
The innovation district is the concept of local entrepreneur, Ed Baldwin, the co-founder and President of ProfileGorilla. He wanted to develop a permanent place for startups and technology entrepreneurs rather than having them be limited to the few days of the One Spark festival. Baldwin and Spark’s co-creators said the idea came from cities like Austin and San Francisco which already have designated areas promoting their startup communities. The Spark creators believe that districts like these are a proven model for job creation and economic development. Beyond the branding, Baldwin says he hopes the formalization of the innovation district will boost business owners’ chances of courting city help in the form of reduced rent or micro-loans.
Downtown Jacksonville hosts a thriving ecosystem of innovation, providing the right support and resources for entrepreneurs. Startups of all types are making a home here. The robust Jacksonville community shares ideas constantly, connecting businesses, arts, and culture on a personal scale in the heart of an emerging city.
If you are an entrepreneur or business owner, find your next workspace in downtown Jacksonville’s Spark District on Realmassive.com.