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Jacksonville's Startup Economy: Why I Stayed - Jefferson West Rall, AntonWest Advertising

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Jefferson West Rall has spent his entire professional advertising career in Jacksonville with the philosophy that relationships define where you work and live.As part of our Startup Economy Series we've asked those involved in Jacksonville's innovation economy why they have stayed in the city. Today we'll hear from Jefferson West Rall, executive creative director at AntonWest Advertising.

"As a young graphic designer, fresh out of Flagler College, the economically diverse city of Jacksonville seemed the logical place to start a career in advertising."

"I knew early on that I wanted to have a cutting edge portfolio as a professional, but how that would play out was unclear. I hit the Jacksonville design and ad scene with a list of good contacts and a student membership in AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts, a national design association)."

"I knew that if I could get into the right place, I would grow. I started at The Florida Times-Union and was there a year, moving on to work at the city's largest ad agency at the time, The William Cook Agency."

"Although a great learning experience, I felt I would need to move out of town in order to do atypical work. I researched other firms nationwide and saw that the tone and quality of work in any given agency was largely due to the philosophy and vision of the leadership—how they worked with clients and brought ideas to life, regardless of geography."

"I knew that if I found the right people with those goals in town, I could stay in Jacksonville. Through the years, I've been fortunate enough to work with some of Jacksonville's top agencies. I was blessed with great mentors that molded my process and validated my philosophy."

"Through those experiences, I've helped grow the reputations of financial institutions, restaurants, sports and entertainment venues, healthcare organizations and theatres—and yes, even public broadcasting."

"My experiences in branding and marketing have also led me outside of this market, enabling me to think bigger and more progressively about problem solving. In the past twenty years, from Jacksonville, I've been able to procure national and international awards, work on global campaigns and initiatives and mentor young, more digitally minded creative, both here and abroad—some of whom I've hired and seen gone on to do great things, also in Jacksonville."

"Now, as a partner in AntonWest Advertising, a 10 month old marketing and advertising firm based in San Marco, I can tell my decision to stay has paid off—mainly through great relationships."

"Staying here and being a part of a great creative community that calls Jacksonville home has given me, my family and friends many reasons to be grateful."

Jefferson West Rall is executive creative director at AntonWest Advertising.

You can follow Patrick Donges on Twitter @patrickhdonges.