The Spark District is the new name for the area where entrepreneurs can find support in downtown Jacksonville. The new district and its corresponding website were unveiled Thursday evening in Hemming Park.
The unveiling comes after eight months of work by one downtown business owner: Ed Baldwin, who runs the software company ProfileGorilla.
His company, which helps other companies track vendors and contractors, has been in its downtown office space, with its exposed brick and wood beams, for about a year. And this startup Gorilla is a beast at winning clients.
“Yeah, we’re growing pretty quick,” Baldwin says, “and I’m just excited to be part of downtown and part of Jacksonville.”
Like many entrepreneurs, Baldwin is plugged in to a Jacksonville community that host meetups, holds conferences and offers co-working space to help others get ideas off the ground. But he noticed those resources were not displayed all together in one place.
That’s where the Spark District—and SparkDistrict.com come in.
#StartupJax founder Anthony Catanese says the site should help people take the next step.
“So, I have this idea, or I have this business, and I live in Jacksonville, Florida, and maybe I live in Mandarin, and I don’t really know where to go to find people that are in the same world as me. Now you have a starting place," he says.
Baldwin says the idea came from cities including Austin, Kansas City and San Francisco, which already have sites promoting their startup communities.
The Spark District is the latest marketing effort by the nonprofit Downtown Vision, the force that’s also behind Art Walk and, more recently, The Elbow dining and entertainment district.
But 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.