We put it to you, the small business community, to tell us who you consider to be the top business influencers in Jacksonville—people that every business owner should know—and you exceeded our expectations.
After hundreds of nominations to sort through and multiple back-and-forth conversations between many, the list has been narrowed to this top 50 (in alphabetical order) and some honorable mentions that just couldn’t be eliminated.
You can meet this “dream team” of influencers who can push your business to new levels of success by opening doors and making connections, if you attend our upcoming Top 50 event. Stay tuned for details on time, date and location; and then be sure to bring your magazine and make sure you met everyone.
Allegretti has served as JAX Chamber’s director of Downtown engagement since 2012, but will become executive director of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville on May 1. Allegretti is among the most visible and vocal proponents of revitalizing Downtown as a place to live and work. He is the, a founding director of the Downtown Investment Authority, founder of Community First Saturdays, founding director of Riverside Arts Market, and founder of First Wednesday Art Walk with Downtown Vision.
He brings an abundance of experience and methodology to collaboration and visioning for a city. He also is leading the push to build upon the city’s growing tourism industry, emphasizing its significant economic impact.
Another long-time proponent of small business and Downtown redevelopment, Bailey is the third generation to run his family’s publishing business, which is now more than 100 years old. In almost 40 years at the helm, Bailey has established The Daily Record as a leading source of news and information for city leaders, many of whom who have come to value his insight.
As president of the JAX Chamber Foundation and Vice President of Entrepreneurial Growth for the chamber, Bartow is a great connector for needed resources. She knows about programs and projects that can help your small business. She also is a nationally recognized expert on women’s business issues.
As Director of the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center, she has been a priceless contact and advocate for women business owners. She has contacts anyone would covet, and she makes good use of them in advancing her clients to success.
Fully committed to small businesses in Jacksonville, her hands-on- approach has produced small businesses that are better able to compete against the competition. She has broad analytical skills and a creative problem solving ability.
Butler has turned an old building in downtown Jacksonville into an incubator where business owners can meet. E3 Business Group has more than 100 members, and Butler has helped several of the companies stay in business by supporting them through the classes and programs that he has created.
In running the Davis College of Business, Capener interfaces with many small-business owners and and assists them in achieving their goal for success. The business school is also sponsors CoWork Jax.
A graduate of the University of North Florida, Carlton has co-founded more than five Jacksonville businesses. Through his commitment to helping customers, he has learned different aspects of the market and discovered new opportunities. Today, Carlton is in the process of launching a mortgage company — Bayway Mortgage Group. The business is flourishing in its first few months of operations.
Crossman started her business without any start-up cash and has since built it by making connections. A public speaker and blogger who focuses on the health and dietary issues facing children, she created Candy Models to help models and talent to better themselves by being actively involved in the community and continuously helps them to improve their careers.
A Jacksonville native, the owner and brewer of Intuition Ale Works has established the Downtown brewery as a major supporter of local events and charities. As a proponent of craft breweries in general, he educates the public and lawmakers on an industry that creates jobs, generates taxes and draws tourists to the state.
Davis has invigorated the chamber in his first year as CEO, expanding its reach and establishing it as a major contributor to discourse regarding the region’s most pressing issues, including job creation and Downtown revitalization.
Deas champions small businesses by volunteering at events like Startup Weekend and Startup Quest. She also helps business owners grow strong, successful companies. Deas freely shares her vast network of contacts with business owners, as well as information and support.
Dominey started Financial Design Associates, a general agency of MassMutual, in Jacksonville in 1998. It now covers eight areas spread through Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Starting with only five agents, he has grown the agency to twelve managers and 66 producers. His team of professionals is dedicated to helping small businesses succeed. He understands the critical components of relationships and champions community service.
Driver has frequently been recognized as one of the area’s leading lawyers for businesses, earning numerous honors from his peers and legal publications. He focuses on mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, private securities transactions, limited liability companies, contract negotiations and general corporate support.
A great-grandson of the company’s founder, Frisch has helped make Beaver Street Fisheries one of the top seafood suppliers in the U.S. He also is helping to establish a world-class professional soccer organization in Jacksonville, as the Armada Owner and founder and CEO of Sunshine Soccer Group.
Burton’s passion to grow TriNet transcends adding to the company’s bottom line. He believes in the business of people, and his vision has empowered SMBs to succeed by helping them navigate the complicated challenges of HR.
Green is on the board of Leadership Florida, serving as co-chair of state membership; and has been an active member of Leadership Jacksonville for 10 years. Setting the highest personal goals is his priority and his performance reflects that leadership vision. He is a servant leader to others, acting with care and respect for the cultural differences and commonalities which make the UNF student body so wonderfully unique.
Griggs is tireless as a champion for small business development. She initiated the concept of the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center in 2004 and served as the founding chair for three years. Then she brought the concept of economic gardening to Jacksonville. She is the founding co-chair of the GrowJAX advisory board, which focuses on assisting growth level companies.
Harold has grown his training products and services company from start-up to a sustainable stage-two business in six short years. He now has more than 100 employees across locations in several states and $11 million in annual revenue. He also has demonstrated his passion for entrepreneurship by forming and creating an organization to provide mentorship and resources for others who aspire to succeed.
Himel’s reputation as a trusted business advisor has led small businesses nationwide to enlist him and PCR Agency to oversee their digital marketing needs. As pioneers of inbound marketing, Himel and his firm offer website design, market analysis, social media, digital strategy, content creation, reporting and analysis, techniques to increase web traffic and conversion and online retention systems to small businesses, focusing on creating digital strategies to help them grow and succeed.
With a communications and consulting career spanning two decades, Holland has the expertise to build a client’s brand from square one into an innovative, unique signature for its products and services. She has fine-tuned the process of brand development into a methodology that integrates a business+brand+people strategy to enhance a company’s brand persona and engage its employees in the most impactful ways.
Lemen has served as the Small Business co-chair for the JAX Chamber, currently serves on both the Entrepreneurial Growth (Immediate past chair) and GrowJAX advisory boards and has served on the ATHENAPowerLink Governing body for the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center. Suzi teaches various small business workshops, including Startup Quest (JAX Chamber) and e-200 (SBA), as well as her own branded HR workshops.
Magee has been active with the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center as both a mentor and as co-chair of the ATHENAPowerLink Governing Body, which focuses on the professional development of women business owners.
McClain helps professionals achieve greater success by providing expert image and wardrobe advice. For the past 29 years Eddie has helped people select, balance, and maintain their wardrobe with in-office or in-home appointments.
As president of JAXUSA Partnership and executive vice president of JAX Chamber, Mallot oversees the strategy for economic development in Northeast Florida. A leader in state economic development as well, he focuses on the expansion and relocation of headquarters to the area.
Owned and managed by Manilla and his family, Portofino Pools has grown to be a leading provider of swimming pool services. A service contractor specializing in Recreation Water Management and Renovations for commercial and residential swimming pools, Portofino Pools is known for its technical abilities and professional service level. Manilla also has volunteered countless hours over the years in service leadership to the community through business, trade, professional, civic, sports and church organizations.
McCormack has served on the JAX Chamber’s Board of Directors as Small Business Chair and currently co-chairs the GrowJAX advisory board, which focuses its attention on assisting growth level companies.
Monahan has supported small entrepreneurs for many years as a consultant at UNF’s Small Business Development Center. He has earned the respect of the small-business community and is in demand as a guest speaker for business-related organizations.
Moody is a founding member of the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center and the immediate past chair of its advisory board. She has served as a program mentor for several years and also has been a supporter of GrowJAX and its CEO Forum program.
Moore has served as the manager of the chamber’s Small Business Center for nearly a decade. She focuses on the aspiring and emerging owner, closely working with many low-to-moderate income individuals so that they can start and grow a small business to provide jobs for themselves and others.
As the co-founder and chief engineer at feature, Potts has helped form the technology company’s vision and evolve its business model into a scalable, marketable product. He’s also the founding partner of a venture technology lab,The Factory, that has invested in five product companies. He plans to grow both his company and the technology lab by pursuing a larger Downtown presence in the historical Greenleaf building.
Perry is president of one of the oldest locally owned and operated independent insurance agencies. Founded by J.P. Perry, Jr. in 1954, it has grown into one of the city’s largest independent insurance firms, serving more than 5,000 local families and businesses. It represents more than 20 major insurance leaders dealing in property and casualty, health, life and employee benefits.
Pomar oversees CenterState Bank’s local operations, as market president. His community involvement includes serving on the Business Advisory Council of the Coggin College of Business at the University of North Florida, and as chairman of the board of directors for Junior Achievement of North Florida.
Quick co-owns a small business with her husband and has been an advocate for women business owners. She has served as a mentor for the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center’s Financial Matter$ program for several years and recently began a two-year term as chair of the JWBC’s advisory board. She has been instrumental in program development for JWBC, particularly the Leadership Matters program that launched in October 2013.
Franchise Network, is a member of the FranNet group, which for more than 25 years has helped thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs turn their dreams into reality. Reddy has more than 27 years of experience in business ownership, sales, marketing and consulting, and often speaks at local colleges and universities about entrepreneurial options outside of corporate America.
Reed specializes in establishing corporate identity through visual cues and other experiential marketing. For the past 10 years, he has also consulted annually with ESPN Special Events Marketing on major televised events, including Super Bowls and X Games. Reed is a member of the UNF Student Affairs Community Council and is a frequent speaker at the UNF Taylor Leadership Institute.
Van Rensburg’s approach to helping businesses is unconventional and quite different from traditional keynote and workshop sessions simply because his “TEAMS” series uses analogies with nature and the lessons that teams can learn from African animals that live in packs, herds and prides. He builds participants’ capacity to lead their teams towards achieving goals and creating successful and sustainable teams.
From his time as a small-business banker to his stint as president of the First Coast African American Chamber of Commerce to his current position as Senior Director for the JAX Chamber’s Entrepreneurial Growth Division, Robinson’s focus has remained fixed on small business and economic development. His work at the chamber includes developing paths for small-business owners to access capital.
Roesler is an expert in Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, and Paid Search advertising. He helps businesses to understand the confusing world of online marketing and to use it to increase their profitability.
As the General Manager of Intuition Ale Works, Sanchez-Potter has forged innumerable partnerships with other small-business owners to produce unique events and otherwise help them get exposure in traditional media outlets and through social media. Similarly, the media coverage and buzz surrounding The Legend Series, of which she is the owner and executive producer, have provided invaluable exposure for small-business owners. As founder and manager of the King Street Farmers Market she also provides a place for local farmers and artisans to sell their products.
Sifakis actively seeks to better the lives of those around him. Through business, through donating his time, through empowering his team and helping his clients make profits. Sifakis has a great attitude and always adds positively to the atmosphere, wherever he goes.
Smith has been known as a consummate networker and ambassador of the small-business community in Jacksonville for more than 20 years. Many people owe their success to Smith meeting them and being a resource in helping them meet the right people. He enjoys direct, personal contact with clients, because he knows he is better able to help clients whom he knows well.
Elysia has grown her mortgage business exponentially over the past few years, even through a “down” economy. She is well connected and is the go-to person in Jacksonville for anything relating to residential mortgage products.
Sullivan owns a Doctors Express Urgent Care franchise in Jacksonville and is an area developer for Northeast Florida and Southern Georgia. She is passionate about access to quality, affordable healthcare and enjoys help others to own their own business.
Like his business partner, Mike Potts, who also is among our Top 50 influencers, Vaughan has helped grow their technology company by providing vision and leadership. He also supports as many startup and/or entrepreneur-related initiatives as possible. He is passionate about his community and is always willing to help people.
White has established himself as an business leader who brings awareness and opportunities to non-profits. He is constantly pushing the envelope to bring different people and companies together to better the city, the people and the community as a whole.
He is very much in-tune with the business community and that gives him insight into what it takes to help businesses grow and be successful. One client credits Wiggins with helping them when they were in their most vulnerable position. When their father passed away during the sale of their family’s business, Wiggins held them up, gave them great advice, and helped them make clear decisions when they would have probably otherwise acquiesced and given into pressure from the buyer.
Wood helps small companies find good talent and training as well as grant money from the state for hiring and training. He is invaluable to small businesses that struggle with these areas.
Zelen is respected among her peers and is well known throughout the business community for her insurance acumen, volunteerism and enthusiastic spirit. Through her high standards, honesty and integrity, she has become a trusted advisor to many small business owners. She is always eager to mentor new business owners and to connect them with resources that can benefit their company’s growth.
Camille Gregg, Outside the Box Marketing
She is active with community and non-profit organizations, and is a go-to person for social media that involves the small business community. She also has served on numerous boards of directors, which makes her well connected in the business community.
Carolyn S. Ward, YP Advertising Solutions
Ward has served as Uncampaign Chair for the JAX Chamber, as program chair and board member for the chamber’s Professional Women’s Council and as program chair and board member for its South Council. She also volunteers for many local nonprofits.