How 'badassery' will push innovation in Jacksonville — and what that means for the Landing

Jacksonville Business Journal

Jul 13, 2015, 7:35am EDT UPDATED: Jul 13, 2015, 3:30pm EDT

From left to right, co-founders of the Jacksonville Entrepreneur Coalition: Jason Salvagni, Chris Lavan and Matt Barker. The group will take up residence at The Landing this week.

Reporter- Jacksonville Business Journal

While the One Spark organization is back at the drawing tableto regroup its efforts to spur innovation in Jacksonville, other splinter groups — among them the newly announced Jacksonville Entrepreneur Coalition— are pulling the trigger on other projects that support the same goal.

The 5,000-square-foot space within The Landing that will be occupied by the group this week will be used as a kind of maker lab/cowork space/startup support site. Organizers hope the coalition, in a largely underutilized area of Downtown, will help build momentum and energy around local innovation.

And it’s grassroots initiatives like these that, piece by piece, will further bolster the foundation of the River City’s growing entrepreneurial community.

I think it’s awesome because what is happening is it’s sparking different components of the community,” said Carlton Robinson, senior director of the entrepreneurial growth division of the Jax Chamber of Commerce.

While One Spark may have ignited that initial “spark,” Robinson said, “Now we’re seeing people having more courage to start other things — and collectively, all these different things are strengthening that ecosystem.”

Among those "other things" are:

  • CoLabJax, a DIY maker space run by the same guys behind the Jacksonville Entrepreneur Coalition;
  • JaxCoE, or the Jax Community of Entrepreneurs, a support and mentoring group for would-be innovators;
  • and JaxBridges, a Chamber-run program connecting small businesses to profit-making opportunities with larger companies.

Robinson has a word for the kind of scrappy action that pushes the envelope on the status quo: “Badassery,” he said with a laugh, “that’s where we’re at right now.”

Ed Baldwin, co-founder of the startup ProfileGorilla, agrees. “I think a lot of groups now are getting engaged with a lot of pieces of it [the innovation community].”

And if all goes as promised, the move could pay off for the Landing as well as the innovation economy.

"If it brings young people down there, we're happy," said Toney Sleiman, co-owner of the Landing.

"This is a fun group," echoed Janice Lowe, general manager for The Landing, "and will bring a lot of energy to The Landing."

Colleen covers the innovation economy, focusing on technology, start ups, finance and health care.