UNF at the heart of
“Twenty years from now,
you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones
you did do, so throw o the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the
trade winds in your sails. Explore, dream, discover.” —Mark Twain
Having a great idea is one
thing. Turning that idea into a viable business is another.
In addition to a grand
vision or an innovative product, budding entrepreneurs require capital, data
knowledge and business skills to be successful. In Jacksonville, innovators will
soon not only have a place to dream, but a place to vet their ideas and access
critical resources and support.
The University of North
Florida’s new Center for Entrepreneurship opens in downtown Jacksonville in
January 2019. An initiative of UNF’s Coggin College of Business, the Center
aims to be a hub for innovation and creativity in the heart of the city.
Akin to the format of the
“Shark Tank” TV show, entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas to a panel of
experts in hopes of being one of 10-15 selected to receive space and support in
the Center. At no cost, those selected will be provided office space to work
through their plans, assess market feasibility and develop their businesses.
“The ultimate objective is
to grow business for Jacksonville and build a strong and sustainable
entrepreneurial climate — for the success of the community and our students,”
said Mark Dawkins, dean of the Coggin College of Business. Dawkins added, as
Jacksonville’s entrepreneurial environment has grown, it became clear that the
University needed to be involved.
Plans for the Center
resulted from a task force formed in 2015 to study local entrepreneurism and
successful models in other cities. The group looked at the top
50 entrepreneur centers in the country, said Dawkins, identifying
best practices and components that were appropriate for Jacksonville. A lead
gift from Luther and Blanche Coggin put the plans in motion.
The Center will be a
learning lab, providing students with opportunities to assist entrepreneurs
with market analyses, financial statement creation, planning
and more. The Northeast Florida Small Business Development Center
will have a presence as well to connect aspiring
business owners with additional resources and advice.
The Center for
Entrepreneurship will occupy two floors of the Barnett National Bank Building,
a signature downtown building near the Laura Street Trio — a group of historic
structures undergoing major renovations and a key part of downtown
The Coggin College of
Business will hold graduate classes in the space for its popular Master of
Science in Management and MBA programs, which together have grown 207 percent