Being fairly new to Downtown Jacksonville (entering my 4th year), I’ve had to invent or get involved with creative ways to meet people in the Corporate market. Jacksonville has been very embracing and is always lending a hand to new members of the community, including an emerging professional woman from the North such as myself (yes, I’m a Yankee). I come from a larger market where you would think the networking opportunity would be endless, but the differences between the two are like night and day. Throughout the last few years I’ve tried to figure out what “it” was that made Jacksonville different. I’ve recognized something about Jacksonville, that sets it apart from other cities – the determination and dedication its people has to make the city grow and thrive! I’ve attended MANY networking events over the years, and as I reflect back, I recognize they all have the same common denominator – CONNECTING.
Jacksonville, regardless if you are Downtown, at the Beaches, Northside, Southside, or Westside, understands the need for business professionals to connect with each other and build relationships that will foster strong businesses and ultimately a healthy Jacksonville market. People of all professional statuses are willing take the time to genuinely listen and learn from each other. My experience has been, if I meet with someone and there isn’t opportunity to conduct business together, I usually walk away with another contact referral of someone else that I should reach out to. That’s what I mean, it’s sort of a “pay it forward” mentality — the process doesn’t stop…Jacksonville keeps it going.
A few groups I feel have elevated “networking” to another level, by using a creative platform to strengthen corporate relationships while enjoying the benefits of what Downtown Jacksonville offers. One group in particular, the “Downtown Catalyst Club” started by Traci Jenks with CBRE, brings professionals to Downtown Jacksonville based on the foundation to continue to grow awareness of how many great social settings are available in the city and provide a platform of business networking in a high energy, low stress environment. The club meets once a month at different downtown restaurants, and is open to anyone interested in experiencing the great benefits networking and Jacksonville has to offer. On the group’s website, Traci says, “I decided to start the Downtown Catalyst Club, because I am passionate about seeing some positive changes to downtown. I truly feel it will take more grass roots efforts like this to get people downtown.”
Ultimately, Downtown Jacksonville’s economic growth is directly impacted by individuals, like Traci Jenks, who take the necessary steps to continue to engage and grow our community by enriching the awareness of the its people on the great benefits about working in a city that opens its doors to newcomers as if they were born here, while still holding onto the heritage and legacy of all the generations that have always called Jacksonville home. At the end of the day, Jacksonville will grow because of the connections. There is a greater understanding here about a simple concept – “US.”