JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It seems all eyes are currently on London for the royal wedding.
But this isn’t the first or last time London will be on the minds of Jacksonville residents. In fact, the Jacksonville Jaguars have played a home game at London’s Wembley Stadium since 2013.
But for business owners, these games are more than just a display of athletic prowess. They are an opportunity to garner British investment for local businesses.
Daniel Davis, president and CEO of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, said that relationships with London have been on the minds of northeast Florida business owners.
“It’s a natural next step with the Jags playing over there every year and the influence that Shad has in Europe,” Davis said. “It’s a great opportunity for us in our community to make sure that we’re capitalizing on business opportunities.”
When the Jaguars first started playing in London, business leaders like Davis also made their presence known.
“We really felt like we need to capitalize on this opportunity – don’t just go over there for a game,” he said. “Although we want to see the Jags represent Jacksonville all over the world, we want to make sure we take advantage of this opportunity for business.”
Those relationships that have been built across the pond have been paying off, according to Davis.
He said that financial institutions, manufacturers and staffing companies are just some of the business that have moved to Jacksonville and have grown.
Davis said that the relationships with London-based companies have added hundreds of jobs to Jacksonville.
However, he said that many of the companies had never heard of Jacksonville up until a few years ago.
“And many times people don’t know where Jacksonville is, especially folks from Europe,” he said. “They know Miami and they know Orlando, in many cases. But once they realize the gem that we have in northeast Florida, they wonder to themselves why they haven’t ever heard about it.”
With recent reports that Jaguars owner Shad Khan is interested in purchasing Wembley Stadium, Davis said he believes it is a good move to promote long-term stability of the Jaguars in Jacksonville.
“I think that there’s an opportunity for us to keep growing our franchise [and] our city,” he said. “The moves that Shad is making in London only makes Jacksonville stronger.”