Jacksonville: The Next Silicon Valley for Entrepreneurs

Jacksonville is “hot for startups” according to a recent CNNMoney article and its reputation is growing as a city where entrepreneurs’ dreams can become reality.

Early-stage businesses are taking notice of Jacksonville’s emerging startup scene, and what the area offers that places like Silicon Valley and New York City cannot. Inexpensive business and labor costs, low taxes, a young population and an attractive quality of life entice entrepreneurs from around the country.

Most importantly, Jacksonville offers easy access to private venture capital funding and has a growing population of high net-worth retirees looking to invest in innovative companies. A perfect match for young innovators.

“Jacksonville has a young ecosystem that’s very welcoming to innovation and new business,” said Ted Carter, executive director and CEO of the Office of Economic Development. “The city offers unlimited opportunities for entrepreneurs.”

Also, Jacksonville has a non-traditional way to match startup companies and entrepreneurs with funding sources. One Spark, the “world’s crowdfunding festival,” was created by residents who wanted to bring both great ideas and funding opportunities to the public. The five-day annual event attracts innovators and budding entrepreneurs from all over the world to showcase their creations in innovation, science, technology, art and music for the chance to connect with funding capital.

One Spark, April 9-13, 2014, will offer $3.25 million in combined investment opportunities from major venture capital investors including Jacksonville Jaguars Owner Shad Khan, Arsenal Venture Partners, Florida Blue, Healthbox, PS27 Ventures and UE Investors.

The One Spark crowd-funding festival model is now sought after by cities worldwide as officials realize the potential this type of event has to attract innovators and entrepreneurs to their cities.

The success of One Spark and Jacksonville’s business-friendly climate go hand-in-hand. Jacksonville officials continually market the city’s economic incentives and benefits that make it an ideal location to start a business. Training grants, revenue grants and real estate tax abatements are a few of the economic incentives the city offers start-up businesses.

“Our collective efforts to increase the city’s entrepreneurial profile continues to be recognized,” explained Jerry Mallot, president ofJAXUSA Partnership. “Jacksonville recently was ranked #1 Best City to Start a Business by”