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The 2014 One Spark crowdfunding festival paid out more than $350,000 to exhibitors. The economic impact is estimated at more than $1.8 million, according to a survey commissioned by Visit Jacksonville.
Jax Daily Record Monday, May. 12, 201412:00 PM EST

Who came to One Spark? It may not be who you'd expect

by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

While the majority of people who went Downtown for the One Spark crowdfunding festival live in Duval County, the event drew enough non-residents to account for an economic impact of more than $1.8 million.

That’s according to a survey conducted for Visit Jacksonville by the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Laboratory.

Sixteen interviewers collected 1,098 surveys from adult attendees Thursday-Saturday during the festival. The margin for error for the survey is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points, said Michael Binder, faculty director at the UNF laboratory.

At the conclusion of One Spark 2014, it was estimated that 260,000 people came Downtown during the five-day event. The UNF survey determined there were 51,000 “unique attendees,” with multiple-day attendance driving the total figure.

Residents of Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach and Baldwin comprised 85 percent of One Spark attendees, while 15 percent lived outside the county.

Based on the survey, 1,010 visitors booked rooms in commercial lodgings, accounting for 1,600 event-related room nights – a direct expenditure of $1,135,000.

Those surveyed said they planned to spend an average of 2.8 days in a hotel during One Spark.

Applying the industry standard regional festival event multiplier to estimate overall visitor spending, the total amount that flowed into the local economy is calculated to be $1,816,000.

In addition to lodging providers, entertainment venues also gained business from the festival, with visitors indicating they planned to spend an average of $81 per day in restaurants, bars and nightclubs during their stay.

Personal vehicles were used by 77 percent of visitors to travel around Jacksonville during their stay, while 12 percent used public transportation, including the Skyway.

The demographic analysis of One Spark attendees indicates 44 percent were age 25-44, with 35 percent 45-64 and 15 percent in the 18-24 age group.

Of the group that completed a survey, 53 percent were female, 47 percent were male.

The festival attracted a well-educated and affluent audience, with 64 percent of those surveyed reporting a four-year college or graduate degree. Forty-nine percent said their annual household income is $65,000 or more.

“That’s a great indicator of the potential of the event,” said Paul Astleford, president and CEO of Visit Jacksonville. “It’s an attraction for entrepreneurs and lot of business people came to One Spark. We love to have them coming to Jacksonville.”

He said Visit Jacksonville, the nonprofit marketing organization contracted by the Duval County Tourist Development Council to promote business and leisure tourism, will use the findings of the survey to enhance the promotion effort for next year’s One Spark.

“We anticipate that the growth of this event will become significantly more from outside of Jacksonville,” Astleford said.

The festival was the main reason for 76 percent of the visitors to be in Jacksonville that week and 11 percent responded that One Spark influenced their decision to visit Jacksonville.

Bringing people Downtown and possibly changing their perceptions of the urban core is a founding principle of One Spark. Based on survey responses, that appears to have been accomplished, with 94 percent of those polled saying they are somewhat likely or very likely to return to Downtown because of their experience at the festival.

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