Brightline Train As a Conduit for Economic Development

It’s Monday morning and I’m writing this post from a corner table at Subculture coffee shop about 200 yards from the Brightline station. I just received a notification from my project manager, Dean, he’s organizing a meeting for 2 pm to go over paperwork so we can bring on two more full-time development resources. The notification comes through from the “Brightline Accelerator” team on Slack.

The Inaugural Brightline Event

This past Friday at 8:30 am I Ubered to the West Palm Beach Brightline Station from my house on South Dixie. Upon approach, I was stopped by a security guard about 100 feet from the entrance, “How may I help you? Are you here for the event?” Yes, yes, I’m here for the event. “Who are you with?” Good question… Who am I with?


Defining Identity

A few thoughts run through my head, with internal inquiry, of which none I say out loud… Where do I start?

I’m not media, per se, but I am someone worth having at this event, in that, I am integral to the future of economic development in this city. I run #78 startup website in the world, I’m a contributor at, I have a secret accelerator that could help Brightline land as an economic development engine…

I walked to the welcome desk to check in, “What’s your name?” Nicholas Mohnacky, m o h n a c k y.

“Doesn’t look like we have a badge for you, are you media or ?” (She walks over to chat with a Brightline higher-up.) “Ah, yes I know him, add him as a Media Guest.”


There are familiar faces from my Palm Beach Post days buzzing throughout the station shooting b-roll, interviewing members from Congress, city officials and the like.

You could feel the tension in the air. The “world” (or maybe just America) was watching, literally and figuratively from the neighboring residents to Congress members on the transportation appropriations committee. The folks at Brightline consciously cued influentials and media hospitably through areas of the station while ensuring a desirable experience was had by all.

In the time that it’s taken me to write the above, I have received a dozen or so messages from the team, known as the Brightline Accelerator, who has been building BNotes. “Can you do an app demo at 11:30 am?” Yes, and let’s review the comments regarding the iPhone prototype.


Last year we shifted our focus at Startup Palm Beach away from events. We were effective in creating and congealing the startup community thus offsetting the need for us, as an organization, to bring the community together for the purposes of thought sharing and cohesiveness. Demand has effectively been filled by organizations that have sprouted up as a result of our efforts in years prior. What we decided to do instead is tell startup stories in order to build awareness and affinity for the community’s people.

As an extension of the City’s Economic Development Plan, we recognize what’s next for us is to fill the gap in talent acquisition, funding, and development. Here’s how I see all of this unfolding, the Brightline train will serve as the conduit to what I call, the barbell markets, north and south of us, Miami and Orlando, with West Palm Beach being the hub.

So in 2017, prior to the launch of Brightline, I brought together a local team under the leadership of longtime friend and engineer Ben Stahlhood II (he developed Nike + and has shipped over 100 apps) to build a high impact high growth company through a pilot accelerator program, code name “Brightline Accelerator”. Stay tuned for details on the accelerator program and how Brightline train serves a conduit for economic development.

Brightline Founders’ Inaugural Speech

We made it to the geometrically shaped Ft. Lauderdale station, strategically positioned east of I95 in downtown Broward in about 30 minutes. Upon arrival, we were directed across the bridge and down the escalators to the press event where city officials, members of Congress and the Founders’ of Brightline would shed light on their journey while forecasting big plans and a bright future.

Personally, I’m grateful to have been a part of history and see Brightline as a significant step in the right direction for the future of transportation in the US. I look forward to utilizing this speed train as a conduit between two major markets.