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Tech Tuesday: Growing Jacksonville's Tech Startup Community

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The recent One Spark crowdfunding festival brought into sharp focus an emerging industry on the First Coast — tech startups.Among the companies that is helping build the business landscape of what some have referred to as "Silicon Valley East" is Ignite, the innovation lab of nation staffing company the Adecco Group.

Sean Paley, president of Ignite, and Sara Phipps, the company's marketing manager, joined Melissa Ross to discuss Jacksonville's tech startup boom in this week's Tech Tuesday segment.

Ignite, “builds websites and apps that help people find great jobs, build their careers, and help companies find the best talent,” said Paley.

Phipps described the growing tech startup sector in Jacksonville as, “a very supportive and integrated community.”

“It’s about culture and about developing a landscape and an environment where people are really driven to do their best,” Phipps said.

Paley and Phipps agreed that the One Spark festival brought attention to the tech startup industry, but that the tipping point for making Jacksonville a hub for startups is that the city is a great place to live.

“Tech is booming. It’s easier now to create a tech startup than it’s ever been before,” said Paley. “What is unique about Jacksonville is that it’s one of the best places to live and be 30-something, start a family, and still be able to work in tech.”

Phipps said the cost of living in Jacksonville as another reason tech startups are flocking to the First Coast, calling it “incomparable to much bigger metropolitan areas.”

Phipps, who moved to Jacksonville from New York, says the opportunities she has here are greater than those offered to her in the Northeast

“Moving here opened up so many avenues for me that would not have been possible when you’re a much smaller fish in a much bigger pond,” she said.

Paley said that the growth of downtown is the key for lasting success of tech startups and described it as a place where “you need to be.” 

“It would be great to see more companies coming here,” he said.

You can follow Melissa Ross on Twitter @MelissainJax and Nina Budeiri @NinaBudeiri.

Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting.