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By Amy E. Pittman, DVI Intern

One Spark 2014

It’s been six months since Downtown Jacksonville was flooded with hundreds of excited Creators presenting more than 600 projects during One Spark. The spark has grown, the energy has continued, and the 2014 One Spark winners have been busy. DVI caught up the 2014 winners to see where they are now and how their projects are progressing:

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Over the past few years there has been growing interest from high tech companies in locating Downtown. All of this buzz may help explain why Forbes Magazine recently named Jacksonville as the second fastest growing high tech center in the country, surpassed only by Austin, TX.

When asked why they locate Downtown, the overwhelming sentiment is that high tech companies want to be around other like-minded, creative and entrepreneurial individuals, and the Downtown environment that helps them flourish. Companies are also seeking open, flexible and stylish spaces to spur their imagination and creativity.

credit: @coworkjax

CoWork Jax | credit: @coworkjax

CoWork Jax opened its doors in 2012 to create Jacksonville’s first co-working community with a simple mission of offering entrepreneurs and small businesses an environment to collaborate, conspire and grow. Today, it boasts more than 100 members and more than 15 companies with nearly 90 employees having grown out of CoWork – many located in Downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.

Darren Bounds started one such company, SportsYapper, in 2012. Now with a staff of 13 employees and an office located at 100 Laura Street, this app is similar to Twitter but optimized for sports fanatics and accounts for approximately 35% of the sports conversations currently occurring on Twitter.

Another company to come from CoWork Jax is KYN, an offshoot of One Spark that was formed in 2013. According to Shay Arnett, Chief Technologist, KYN provides a 24-week accelerator support program building stability and sustainability in start-up companies. The program provides seed funding and $70,000 in design, development and launch resources for new companies. The program is funded through STACHE Investments and is currently located in the Suddath Building on Bay Street.


IGNITE | credit: @IgniteWithUs

While many of Downtown’s tech firms are homegrown, others are fostered by national companies. As the innovation lab for Adecco Group, the world’s largest staffing and recruiting firm, Ignite is a team of 25 adventurous minds devoted to the creation of digital solutions related to work. Located in the Dyal Upchurch Building, Ignite uses a human-centered, lean and data-driven approach to solve problems ranging from hiring process efficiency, to workforce entry, to career transition.

And, beginning in May 2014, feature[23] is moving approximately 12 employees into the Greenleaf Building from St. Augustine. Jeremy Vaughan, Principal, is looking to harness feature[23]’s open innovation culture to empower the business community with technology and accelerate better-integrated digital enterprises. Working closely with many large companies in Downtown, the move will be not only a strategic business decision, but also a way to collaborate with other organizations and initiatives more closely. Perhaps not so surprising, five of the employees are looking at living in Downtown Jacksonville.

by: Katherine Hardwick in Spotlight No Comments  

Based on a demonstration project between DVI and local entrepreneurs in 2011, CoWork Jax opened its doors on January 26, 2012, to create Jacksonville’s first co-working community with a simple mission of offering entrepreneurs and small businesses an environment to collaborate, conspire and grow.


It’s a formula that not only fosters local entrepreneurs and small businesses, but fosters Downtown growth as well. To date, 15 companies with nearly 90 employees have grown out of CoWork Jax. Companies such as: Ignite, Content Design Group, Digital Edge Marketing , Sports Yapper, One Spark and KYN have all outgrown their CoWork spaces and have relocated, leasing office space in Downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.

The three founders of CoWork Jax, Varick Rosete, Dennis Eusebio and Elton Rivas, developed and launched the inaugural five-day One Spark innovation festival at CoWork. This festival, of course, went on to bring more than 500 creators and 130,000 patrons Downtown and had an estimated economic impact in the tens of millions in its first year. In turn, Northeast Florida’s first business accelerator program, KYN, was imagined here. Selecting four companies from the One Spark Festival, KYN will nurture and develop these companies to grow their businesses Downtown through a 16-week boot-camp-style curriculum designed to validate business models, and scale the companies while attracting additional investment to their businesses.

Today, CoWork boasts more than 100 members and 50 “alumni” members. Approximately 20 participants and program managers are regularly working out of the space, and CoWork is the home of Healthbox Florida’s first cohort of seven companies. An average of 850 unique people come through CoWork’s doors each month, including: members, event and meeting attendees, clients, colleagues, family, and friends.

CoWork Jax has proven itself as a laboratory for fresh innovative thinking, and also as a great vehicle to help revitalize Downtown Jacksonville.

With events like One Spark and other developments on the horizon earlier this spring, DVI submitted Jacksonville for the International Downtown Association‘s (IDA) “Downtown of the Month” feature. Jacksonville was awarded the spot for May, which was announced in Wednesday of this week.

The mission of the IDA is to connect diverse practitioners who transform cities into healthy and vibrant urban places. The organization’s vision is to see a world full of vital and livable downtowns.

Enjoy the full article below and come be a part of our beautiful River City.

Downtown Jacksonville

About Downtown Jacksonville

Downtown Vision LogoDowntown Jacksonville is the heart and historic cornerstone of Florida’s First Coast. Centrally located in the Northeast Florida region, which is home to 1.5 million people, Downtown is a 30-minute drive to the beaches and 45 minutes to St. Augustine and Amelia Island. Here, diverse, big city offerings fuse with small town charm and southern hospitality. Set along six stunning miles of the St. Johns River waterfront, Downtown Jacksonville also boasts one of the largest stocks of historic buildings in Florida.

The creative class delights in an urban canvas of art events, galleries and museums. Downtown Vision Inc.’s First Wednesday Art Walk is frequently voted Jacksonville’s ”Best Artsy Event” and attracts an average of 8,000 people monthly to celebrate the urban environment, people watch and savor Jacksonville’s creative talent. Downtown has welcomed seven new public art murals in 2013—with two more in the works—and a recently announced Spark District Grant Program will fund additional placement of art and culture, events, festivals, concerts and tours in the walkable core.

Jacksonville EntertainmentDowntown Jacksonville is a destination for doers. Sports fans cheer year round for Jacksonville Jaguars NFL football; Jacksonville Suns Double-A baseball; Jacksonville Giants minor league basketball – the 2011-2012 National Champions of the American Basketball Association; and Jacksonville Sharks arena football – the only team in the history of all professional sports to have won the championship of their division in every season of their existence. Music lovers thrive on the local live music scene and national performing acts alike. This year has welcomed a new collaboration of nightlife venues in Downtown’s entertainment district called, The Elbow. Together these authentic, locally owned and operated bars and clubs host monthly live music events and offer charter transportation to the nearby beaches area.

As a hub for innovators and entrepreneurs, Downtown Jacksonville boasts CoWork Jax, a co-working location for independent workers to collaborate, conspire and build community. Following suit, design, marketing and tech companies are flocking to the Downtown core for an authentic, urban experience to augment their creativity. Last month, 130,000 people assembled in Downtown Jacksonville for the launch of the world’s first crowdfunding festival, One Spark. Over the five-day event, more than $250,000 in crowdfunding was distributed among 500 art, music, science and technology and cause exhibits. Plus, STACHE Investments, a venture of Jacksonville Jaguars owner, Shad Khan, will invest in five-to-seven companies selected at One Spark and work with them to support, build and grow their ventures in Jacksonville, FL.

Jacksonville WaterfrontWalkScore, an organization which helps people find a walkable place to live and enjoy a walkable lifestyle, gives Downtown Jacksonville a score of 78 – the highest for any Jacksonville neighborhood, and lauds the Northbank core of Downtown as a walker’s paradise with a score 91. This walkability is one key to Downtown Jacksonville’s desirability among residents and workers.

Historic architecture and modern amenities join to create more than 2,300 residences, from luxury riverfront condos to stylish lofts to cozy townhomes. With 93% occupancy in Downtown Jacksonville, its good news several hundred more units are on the way.

As the largest regional office submarket with more than 7 million square feet of commercial space, business is done from the boardroom to the ballpark. Employees enjoy unparalleled lunchtime and happy hour options steps from their offices, plus daytime activities and exercise options along nearly three miles of Riverwalk and bridge trails found only in the urban core.

Downtown Jacksonville offers something for everyone – visitors, workers and residents alike. Downtown’s calendar of events is chocked full of more than 100 events in May alone, including the renowned Jacksonville Jazz Festival and a new partnership with The Elbow this year for Jazz Fest After Dark.

Jacksonville FireworksWithin Downtown Jacksonville, sits the 90-block Downtown Improvement District administered by DVI. A dedicated staff and board of directors act as the management arm for Downtown, employing advocacy efforts, stakeholder and community support, and public realm enhancements to ensure Downtown is a desirable place to live, work, play and visit.

DVI works tirelessly towards a fully revitalized and dynamic Downtown with a number of partner organizations including the newly formed Downtown Investment Authority, the Downtown Marketing Collaborative, JAX Chamber, Visit Jacksonville and the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville. Together these organizations and more are capitalizing on today’s momentum to build a business powerhouse and 24-hour epicenter of first-class culture, innovation and entertainment opportunities.

For more information, visit or contact executive director Terry Lorince at Follow Downtown Jacksonville on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Photos by Rob Futrell.


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Just one day away from One Spark’s Opening Ceremonies, and you can feel the excitement in the air Downtown. If you are just coming out from under your rock, don’t worry, you can learn about and see how to experience the event here.

Over the past year, DVI has had the opportunity to collaborate with the One Spark team and has gotten to know many of its movers and shakers, like Aschelle Morgan. She’s one of the staff members who is taking the spark and creating fire! Learn more about Aschelle in our Q+A:

Name: Aschelle Morgan

Job: Community Outreach and Engagement Manager

Explain your role at One Spark:

If you ask the One Spark team, my role can best be summed up by “Thanks and yay!” While my primary focus is here locally, I have the incredible role of getting to work with organizations and stakeholders  in the Southeast region to pull off what I believe to be a true game-changer for Jacksonville. Whether that is managing partnerships, rallying supporters, fulfilling speaking engagements or planning promotional events, my purpose in the organization is to get the entire community as jazzed about One Spark as we are.

How did you get involved with One Spark and why?

I initially got involved in One Spark as a volunteer after attending a couple of meetings at CoWork Jax to hear about the idea in its infant stages. To say I was inspired would be an understatement. As a Jacksonville area native, I have always known the potential this city has. Overtime that developed into a huge passion for Downtown and an ever-growing ache to help put this city on the map. One Spark, to me, was an outlet for just that. Getting involved not only meant I could be a part of showcasing amazing talent, but it meant being part of a movement that uncovers the hidden gem of the South.

What do you love most about it?

Do I have to pick just one? I think the best thing about this job is all the new friends I have made along the way. More specifically, all the friends that are just as passionate about this city as I am. I have met so many people from all walks of life who not only want a fun and flourishing Downtown but are willing to put in the leg work to make it happen. It’s really incredible to be reminded of how amazing our community is every day.

What do you want One Spark to accomplish for Downtown?

I would love to see One Spark become a magnifying glass for everything amazing that is our Downtown. Although we won’t know what the impact will be for years to come, it would be a pretty incredible thing to look back and say a side effect was uncovering for the world everything our urban core has to offer.  If that turns into business and residential growth, fantastic, but even if it’s just making us a destination once a year, that’s a pretty astounding thing, too.

What have you learned about Downtown, yourself and anything in between?

Oh boy, I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve joked that this job has been equivalent to getting a masters, Ph.D. and J.D. Whatever you need to know about doppelganger outreach, how to power through sleep deprivation or open container laws, I’m your girl.

In all seriousness though, this has been an incredible ride learning about all things Jacksonville and how to create success in our city. The biggest takeaway I have from this journey is how incredible our existing Downtown community already is. I think sometimes we get so caught up in what we want this city to be that we forget to stop and appreciate our existing local character. More importantly, the team of players that contribute everyday by simply doing what they love. From hole-in-wall business owners to community leaders to even the cool 20-somethings with the rockin’ tattoos, thanks for making our urban core something to be proud of. You are the foundation that makes something like One Spark thrive.

What are your plans after One Spark?

Sleep. Dos Gatos. Repeat. Just kidding…kind of.  After One Spark 2013, I’m pumped to move onto…drum roll please…even more One Spark! The team and I are excited to gear up for another year of showcasing innovation in our urban core. I can’t wait to see One Spark evolve in years to come and look forward to continuing to support something truly special for Jacksonville.

Anything else you want to add?

Thank you, thank you, thank you to our creators, venues, community partners and One Spark enthusiasts for making this thing real. We can’t wait to have a blast with you all this week!

Make sure to download the One Spark app for iPhone and Androids and get out there and vote!

This is more than supporting creators and One Spark, it is about supporting our community.