Making the second One Spark crowdfunding festival next April better and more successful for sponsors is the job taken on by Ellen Leroy-Reed, the event's new director of sponsorship and development.
The former director of marketing and business development at Breaking Ground Contracting Co. said she was hired to engage the community and persuade corporations and business leaders to put their resources into One Spark.
"It's a fancy way to say I'm going to find money," said Leroy-Reed.
The success of the inaugural festival last year – including bringing an estimated 130,000 people Downtown – is a foundation to build on because last year the One Spark concept proved to be a winner, she said.
"Don't tell this group they can't do something. It was done and done successfully," Leroy-Reed said.
Providing a platform for small businesses and people with ideas was only one element of the inaugural One Spark.
It also was an opportunity to showcase the neighborhood and possibly change some people's perception of the urban core.
"So many people came Downtown and discovered there are restaurants, there are places to park and Downtown is safe," she said.
One Spark 2013's major corporate sponsor was Community First Credit Union, which entered into a three-year, $100,000 sponsorship agreement. Leroy-Reed said the 2014 edition will have a longer list of local corporate supporters, already including a law firm and another community credit union.
"We've already signed up Gunster and VyStar," she said.
The impact of the festival in terms of increasing Jacksonville's visibility among the global creative and tech communities will allow more opportunities for corporate relationships, she said.
"Sponsors can use One Spark as a platform to show the world what they do," said Leroy-Reed.
In addition to a new roster of sponsors, Leroy-Reed said other enhancements are in the planning stages for One Spark 2014. Under consideration is a plan to offer shuttle service to and from the festival at local college campuses and the Beaches.
Also in the planning stage is a revised prize structure with larger cash awards for the top vote recipients in the crowdfunding popular vote category and a separate juried competition judged by a panel of industry experts.
"It's going to be a great opportunity for some creators to leave One Spark with some money in their pockets," said Leroy-Reed.
Sponsorship and other financial support is her top priority, however.
"I see One Spark as a $2 million event and I want to reach that goal," Leroy-Reed said.
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