JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Though Jacksonville may have Jaguars games and amazing festivals like One Spark, the thing the co-founders of Aqua Jax felt was missing was something permanent to draw people downtown. Something like an aquarium.
"Really our goal was just to get the word out about the aquarium and see the pulse of the community as to what their interest might be for an aquarium in this community," said J.J. Hammond, a co-founder of Aqua Jax.
The community responded with immense support. Aqua Jax got the most votes at One Spark 2014, won the science category and almost $15,000.00 to get the ball rolling. They want to put it in the shipyards near Metro Park and Hammond says the exposure One Spark gave them was huge. City council members have even reached out to them and they used part of the money to order a feasibility study. Also, they are looking at a partnership with the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.
"We anticipate that this aquarium could bring in anywhere around 1 million people a year to downtown Jacksonville area, so that is what Jacksonville needs is people and this aquarium will do that," Hammond said.
Now that their idea is gaining momentum, Aqua Jax won't have a booth at One Spark again this year, but Hammond does have advice for other creators: Be creative, honest and detailed in what you want to do.
"Some exhibits, you walk away and say 'what was that all about?' But you want to make sure when individuals visit your exhibit they know exactly what you are trying to do and that will hopefully gain you the votes you need to win," Hammond said.
Because at One Spark, one idea can truly transform a city.