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Regional launch of Startup Quest announced

Startup Quest, an entrepreneurship training program for out of work, degree-holding professionals, launched in Northeast Florida.  The program, one of the first of its kind in the U.S., is a partnership between Florida Works, the University of Florida, the JAX Chamber and WorkSource.

“Startup Quest will drive economic transformation by providing opportunities for entrepreneurs, innovators and investors to assess and develop the commercial potential of new ideas,” said Bruce Ferguson, CEO at WorkSource (First Coast Workforce Development Inc.).  “Startup Quest is a great example of how workforce programs can impact the 21st century economy.  We are confident this program will eventually lead to job growth and employment in our region.”

FloridaWorks received a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to fund the program throughout the state of Florida.  Unlike traditional workforce programs, Startup Quest is not a skill-based training course or traditional classroom-style course.  Instead, the program’s personal and experiential process allows participants to gain a deeper understanding of the possibilities of starting a new company or joining a startup venture as part of a dedicated team.

The program is designed to increase employability of participants by introducing them to new industries, leading to new ways of viewing their potential contributions as potential employees and team members, and connecting them to a network of experienced and successful CEO/mentors and entrepreneurs.  In addition to teaching entrepreneurship skills, the program will work with businesses to create training for their job needs.  Training will also be available for veterans.

“The Startup Quest program provides vital support and innovative training to our professional workforce while supporting our local economy with business growth and job creation,” said JAX Chamber Chair and Northeast Florida Market President of Bank of America Greg Smith.  “We believe this program will help accelerate the expansion of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) industries and high-wage jobs that will fuel economic growth in our region.”

Those interested in participating can register for an informational session, held May 14, from 2 to 6 p.m., at

FloridaWorks developed and launched the pilot Startup Quest program in partnership with the University of Florida and the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.  The 2011 program, which was funded with a grant from Workforce Florida, provided entrepreneurship training to 83 unemployed or underemployed educated professionals.  The participants received entrepreneurship training from successful business leaders by going through exercises to create companies around University of Florida research inventions.  As a result of the program, 64 participants gained employment, 19 participants became self-employed, 26 jobs were created and three University of Florida technologies were licensed.

The Chamber’s Entrepreneurial Growth Division provides mentoring, entrepreneurial education, consulting and networking opportunities to advance the success of entrepreneurs at every stage of business development. The Division’s Small Business Center, JWBC and GrowJAX departments serve the region and each offer unique services to drive business growth.  For more information on the programs and services of the Entrepreneurial Growth Division, visit and select the “Start or Grow a Business” tab.


About Startup Quest

Startup Quest is part of an evaluation study funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration Workforce Innovation Fund. Participants will be selected from among eligible applicants. Data collected will remain confidential and will be used for statistical purposes only. Startup Quest is an equal opportunity program. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.


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