1 6 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- One Spark is expected to bring approximately 150,000 people to downtown Jacksonville over the next few days. That's double the attendees from its first year. Hotel rooms are limited and organizers have high hopes for what One Spark can do not just for participants but the city as a whole.

The Hyatt downtown is 90% full and Omni, the host hotel for One Spark, is booked through the weekend. It's the hotel of choice for David Carswell, who is one of hundreds of One Spark participants with an idea and a dream.

"My project is 3freelocal.com," said Carswell. "We're offering an easy way for consumers to connect with contractors."

This Jacksonville native says he's amazed by One Spark's growth in just one year.

"It's scary how big this thing is, I had no idea," said Carswell.

RELATED STORY: FCN's One Spark Top 5: Alert The Boss

Robert Brand is the Director of Operations at the Omni. He says during the first One Spark the hotel was about 60% full. But this year they're at full capacity.

"Our restaurant has been packed all day," said Brand. "With foot traffic the bar is packed right now which is much more."

Organizers say about 20% of those taking part in this year's One Spark are from outside of Jacksonville, and includes participants from three different countries.

RELATED STORY: One Spark creator's sign ignites controversy

Ron Whittington with Visit Jacksonville believes the event will help to put Jacksonville on the world stage.

"All of those things will hopefully get more people to come to Jacksonville," said Whittington. "We know Orlando, we know Miami, why is Jacksonville so interesting?"

Whittington says this year they're going to be working with the Public Opinion Research Center at UNF. A team of about 16 people will canvass the area asking people questions about their experience at One Spark.

1 6 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://www.firstcoastnews.com/story/news/community/2014/04/10/one-spark-hotels/7535399/