Growing up in Jacksonville, Florida — or Jax as us locals call it — was a very special experience. I was lucky enough to spend my entire childhood and early adult life in this surprisingly hip river city by the sea.
If you asked 10 people to describe the city, nine would probably mention the 22 miles of gorgeous beaches. And why not? Jacksonville boasts the most shoreline of any city in the country.
And yet, when I turned 21, I decided I needed a change. I packed up my car and headed north. I went to work at a family owned business in Ohio.
Ohio just might be the polar opposite of Jacksonville. Harsh winters and landlocked, this state shares virtually no characteristics with my hometown.
But what brought me back in 1987 wasn’t the beaches or the weather. It was a spellbinding sense of purpose. I knew from a young age that Jacksonville had a certain DNA for community connections. As I made the decision to return at 24, I knew I was coming back to a place I could thrive if I could connect with the right people and work tirelessly to prove myself.
Today, I am the president and partner at the Dalton Agency, one of the largest PR and advertising agencies in the Southeast. Our PR and social comms practice is one of the largest and most successful in the region. And I am a business partner with one of the world’s leading placemaking developers, Peter Rummell. We incorporate our work and investment opportunities with the agency in a win-win situation.
I have been asked many times about my decision to live in Jacksonville, and the decision to base the agency here. My answer is simple: Jacksonville is a major city, as far as my vision for it is concerned. Not only that, but it is experiencing a renaissance.
Jacksonville’s vibrant culture and rich history can be experienced best through its distinct and diverse neighborhoods. From the hip and trendy Five Points, home to funky boutiques and hot restaurants and bars, to the city’s exciting downtown area, Jacksonville is fast becoming a Florida destination that’s worth a visit.
There are always new things happening in Jacksonville. The emerging Doro District, one of the most anticipated developments just steps from the St. Johns River, is poised to become an epicenter for culinary, cultural, and artistic creativity.
Nearby is downtown Jacksonville, home to EverBank Field, Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, Veterans Memorial Arena, and the recently debuted Daily’s Place, a new 5,500-seat amphitheater.
Jacksonville is a place that allows you to make a difference. That is why I returned home. Not the beaches and the lifestyle.
Major language: English
Median Household Income: $53,221
Per capita Income: $29,284
people in poverty 16.4%
Unemployment rate 3.9%
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Department of Numbers, U.S. Department of Labor
Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville Business Journal, Financial News & Daily Record, Jacksonville Free Press, Folio Weekly
WJXX-TV (ABC), WFOX-TV (FOX), WJAX-TV (CBS), WTLV-TV (NBC), WJCT-TV (PBS), WCWJ-TV (CW)
WQIK-FM, WOKV-FM, WJGL-FM,
WEJZ-FM, WJBT-FM, WAOC-FM
CSX Corporation, Fidelity National Financial, Fidelity National Information Services (FIS), Florida Blue, EverBank
Dalton Agency, St. John & Partners, Shepherd