Mr. Ellis began his entrepreneurial career at the age of 23, as Founder, President and CEO of Movies To Go, Inc., a video store chain he founded and grew to 30 stores in 6 years. In 1987, Movies To Go was the largest privately held, independently owned, video chain in the country when it was acquired by the then fledgling, 14 corporate store chain, Blockbuster Entertainment.
Joining Blockbuster’s Board of Directors, Mr. Ellis served as Senior Vice-President of Development, spearheading its aggressive growth, which resulted in the development of over 1,700 store locations in less than two-and-a-half years, averaging two and a half store openings per day. Mr. Ellis also lived in London, where he established Blockbuster in the European market.
In 1990, Jim founded Ellis Diversified, Inc. (EDI), a real estate development and investment firm. Principally developing and or investing in multi-story high-rises (Sunrise Harbor, Wilton Station, 350 Las Olas Place, The Tides at Bridgeside Square, The Whitney (fka one20fourth), The Rise (fka 2nd Street Residences), 1st Avenue Residences, 488 Residences at Riverwalk, Eclipse, etc.), while also developing many multiple award-winning estate homes in Lake Tahoe, Fort Lauderdale, and the Bahamas. To date, Mr. Ellis has identified, selected, financed and or developed over 10,000,000 square feet of retail, residential and commercial real estate.
Mr. Ellis also gives his talent, time, and resources to charitable causes in the communities he works and lives in. He serves as the past Chair of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), Co-founder of the Fort Lauderdale Downtown Coalition, Past President of Friends of Birch State Park, Inc., President of the Flagler Village Improvement Association, Inc., Past Chair of Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale and is a member of the Beach Council of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce. In early 2019, Mr. Ellis founded Friends for a Safer Greener Fort Lauderdale and spearheaded the community-led effort for the approval of the $100 million Public Safety bond and the $200 million Parks bond. Mr. Ellis was also instrumental in the evaluation and pursuit of a joint Broward County/ Fort Lauderdale government center in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Mr. Ellis’ work has been recognized by numerous awards, including City of Ft Lauderdale Citizen of the Year, Riverwalk Tribute Honoree, Junior Achievement Hall of Fame Laureate and Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame Honoree.