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Rummell: Early Success Of One Spark 2014 A Sign Of Things To Come

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Patrick Donges
/
WJCT

With record attendance and many more visitors expected at the 2014 One Spark festival over the weekend, One Spark board member and major investor Peter Rummell says the success of the start of this year's festival is just the beginning.Rummell, who is the festival's top financial benefactor, spoke to reporters Friday morning during a One Spark media briefing in downtown Jacksonville.

Prior to the Jacksonville press conference, he was interviewed live early Friday morning on CNBC and on television news in London about the festival.

"I think what we're seeing here is the power of a good idea," Rummell said. "This interest and this validation these first couple days is, I think, an interesting benchmark on the progress that we've made, and I think it's just the beginning."

Earlier in the press conference, One Spark Executive Director Joe Sampson cited statistics that showed 85,000 people had come out to festival venues through the first two days.

Rummell said some "CEO types" have also been in Jacksonville during the opening days, and they have expressed interest in doing a version of the festival in their cities.

"If you're not New York, and you're not London, everybody is trying to figure out how to keep people you're age here," Rummell said, answering a question from a young woman.

"It takes two things to keep you here; one is a job, and the other is other people like you, and in essence that's what this is about."

Rummell said that both domestic and international business leaders have visited the festival since Wednesday and he expects more this weekend, though he wouldn't specify where they were coming from.

"It's kind of a hard idea to explain, and so there's no substitute for seeing it," he said. "You walk somebody down Laura Street for 15 minutes and they get it."

When asked how One Spark has affected the redevelopment of downtown Jacksonville, Rummell said the festival is a "window into the future of what things could be."

"One Spark is not the cure to downtown revitalization," he said. "It is one thing that can help add some energy and some life to a part of downtown for a little while, but it's going to take some very heavy lifting to make this a 365 day kind of phenomenon.

Rummell said that aside from people whose morning commutes have been complicated by festival-related traffic, he hasn't heard a criticism from local businesses.

In addition to his morning media appearances, Rummell is also scheduled to be interviewed live on CNBC's "Closing Bell" program Friday afternoon.

You can follow Patrick Donges on Twitter @patrickhdonges.