We relocated our content marketing agency to Jacksonville. Here’s why it’s a great spot for entrepreneurship.
This year, my partner Jeff and I moved our family, worldly possessions, and our business south, down from the seaside town of Scarborough, Maine to another seaside town—Ponte Vedra, Florida, a quiet family community sandwiched between the larger metro areas of Jacksonville and Saint Augustine.
For us, the primary motivator was a shift of lifestyle, as I wrote about recently. While we’ve loved the Portland area and will continue to visit frequently, we’d had enough snow to last a lifetime and were able to work from anywhere—so why not somewhere a little warmer?
But alongside our personal motivations, we were also thinking strategically.
The more we looked at the greater Jacksonville region, the more potential we saw in the city as a global business hub. We want to be part of a thriving ecosystem where we can help businesses grow through strong marketing programs, and grow our own business in turn. The Jacksonville-St. Augustine region seemed like a great bet for a successful next step for our company.
Here are a few reasons why:
Many large companies have corporate offices here, including the likes of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase, UPS, and FIS. The city’s medical resources are world-class as well, with huge hospital systems including Baptist Health, Mayo Clinic, and UF Health providing opportunities for medtech startups to pilot their innovations. As a result, Jacksonville is home to a thriving community of B2B tech startups in industries including fintech, medical technology, manufacturing, and logistics, to name a few. Successful startups in the region include LenderLive, a mortgage solutions company started in 2015 that now has 450 employees, and Breezy HR, a recruiting solution that has raised nearly $2 million in venture funding. While we’re only beginning to make new business contacts in the region, our agency specializes primarily in B2B technology and finance companies, so we are excited to learn more about all of the promising startups and growing enterprises in these sectors.
Eucalypt is a remote business—and we’re far from alone in that. More than a quarter of our neighbors here work remotely, either for their own businesses or for larger companies. The region offers great high-speed internet, including Google Fiber, making it possible to easily handle data-intensive tasks from a home office network, including video conferencing and streaming live video. While great coworking spaces like Lionshare and Kuna are available throughout the region, most Jacksonville-area remote workers can have all the comforts of a fully decked-out office from within their own homes. We’ve found it easy to network with entrepreneurs in a wide variety of fields right within our own neighborhood.
Companies with business models that rely on frequent shipping can benefit from the central location and great infrastructure of Jacksonville, with easy access to the 95 and other major interstate freeways as well as two deep-sea ports. The area boasts same-day access to over 94 million consumers, and companies like Amazon have recently opened large fulfillment centers here. For businesses that plan to handle their own fulfillment, the Jacksonville area is an ideal location to target—and the same-day Amazon shipping is a fantastic service for businesses like ours, who often need quick access to business supplies.
Orlando has more than the Magic Kingdom to offer (though my kids may beg to differ)—it’s also got a thriving business scene. Its proximity to the Kennedy Space Center makes it a breeding ground for hundreds of businesses around aviation and aerospace technology, and it’s home to several accelerator groups, including FireSpring Fund and VentureScaleUp. Many displaced Puerto Ricans have relocated to the Orlando area to start businesses in the area, creating a hotbed for cross-cultural business opportunities. Jacksonville’s a short two-hour commute to Orlando, opening the door to plenty of collaborative possibilities that we’re excited to explore. Orlando also plays host every other year to the An Event Apart conference, which brings together some of the world’s top visionaries in the digital space—my partner Jeff found it to be the most compelling conference he’d ever attended.
Florida as a whole has no state income tax—a fact that’s been attracting retirees in droves for decades. But it’s also ideal for LLC-based businesses, which are able to capture more profits and reinvest them into opportunities for future growth. Because Florida’s economy is largely driven by tourism, entrepreneurs are able to retain more earnings than in those states with heavy tax burdens, enabling them to focus on bigger investments in marketing, technology, and infrastructure to future-proof their businesses. Florida also offers a number of tax incentive programs, such as the Capital Investment Tax Credit, which provides credit against corporate taxes for projects worth $25 million or more that will create at least 100 jobs.
As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing on your business 24-7—and that was especially the case for us during the long Maine winters, when we’d see snow on the ground all the way from November until May. Those dreary days make it tempting to hibernate in isolation for months at a time, forsaking exercise and valuable time with friends that helps you break out of your rut and explore new visions for your business. Here in the Jacksonville region, there’s rarely a day that dips below 60 degrees—which means it’s always a great time for a long walk, bike ride, or BBQ with friends. The climate and natural boost of vitamin D help us stay motivated and inspired to do great work for our clients all year long.
While we still have plenty of friends, family, and clients back in Maine, and love the region dearly, we’re excited about the growth opportunities that we’re already finding in Jacksonville. While this city may be slightly under the radar as a national hub for entrepreneurship so far, it’s on its way up—and we’re excited to be here to watch the momentum build.
Kathryn Hawkins is principal and chief content strategist of Eucalypt Media. She has worked as a freelance journalist for media publications and managed inbound marketing and content strategy for corporate and nonprofit clients for more than a decade.
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