The Next Silicon Valley: Jacksonville?

November 18, 2015 40 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Few cities in the U.S. today offer the rich history and bright future of Jacksonville. Settled by European colonists in the 1500s, Jacksonville is now transforming itself into a vibrant hub for businesses, technology, and entrepreneurial vision. While Metro Jacksonville believes things are a bit more complex than the reason highlighted in this editorial, here's a look at why believes Jacksonville could be the next Silicon Valley. We'd like to know if you agree.

Lower Taxes

According to research compiled by, Jacksonville boasts a relatively low sales tax of 7 percent, compared with the 8.25 percent sales tax in San Jose or the 9.5 percent sales tax in Chicago. More importantly, Jacksonville residents benefit from Florida’s state income tax rate of zero. These two competitive tax figures mean that entrepreneurs in Jacksonville have more money to grow their businesses.

Accessible Financing

Jacksonville ranked 58 out of 150 in the best cities to start a business, according to WalletHub. (San Francisco ranked 130.) And reported last year that Jacksonville could be the next hot spot for startups thanks to its availability of capital and a young, innovative ecosystem. One Spark, an annual crowdfunding festival hosted in Jacksonville, has helped spur this growth. So has a growing population of retirees who are eager (and able) to invest. The city offers training grants, revenue grants, and real estate tax abatements to incentivize business development.

Abundant Outdoor Activities

You wouldn’t expect to find the 12th most populous city in the U.S. within minutes of 22 miles of beaches. But then again, Jacksonville is exceptional. According to the Office of Economic Development, the city operates the largest system of urban parks in the U.S. And when you tire of white sand and park trails, enjoy a round of golf at one of the area’s many world-class resorts and public greens.

Affordable Housing

Jacksonville ranks No. 6 on’s 2014 list of Nicest Cities for Renters due to its high rental vacancy rate of 11.7 percent and low median rent of $808. Compared with the astronomical prices renters pay in the Bay Area, Jacksonville offers a welcome financial respite that even an up-and-coming tech mogul could get on board with.

Robust Arts & Culture Scene

One of the main attractions for young entrepreneurs and business people is the arts and culture scene of their city, and fortunately in Jacksonville, much of it can be experienced for free. Some of the best free activities reported by include admission to the Cummer Museum every Tuesday between 4 and 9 p.m., Music @ Main (hosted by the public library), and many farmers markets. Most notably, the Riverside Arts Market, a weekly festival of local food, art and music, also boasts free admission.

Tech Employment Surge ranked Jacksonville as the 6th best city for tech jobs in 2012 due to a 72.4 percent leap in tech employment and over 17 percent overall job growth in STEM fields since 2001. This kind of boom, combined with the city’s great location, affordability and available financing, can only spell one thing: Next. Silicon. Valley. Mountain View and Menlo Park should be paying attention. The rest of us certainly are.

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