Port of Jacksonville (JAXPORT)
Brian Taylor, CEO
FTZ No. 64 • 1,512 total acres • 18 Berths • 1,043,000 sq. ft. warehouse space • 40-ft. channel • ICTF (2015)
Rail: CSX, NS, FEC
Highway: I-10, I-95, I-75
Top export destinations: Puerto Rico, Brazil, China
Top export commodities: Automobiles, Motor Vehicles, General Merchandise
Brian Taylor: Something a lot of people probably wouldn’t know about the Jacksonville, JAXPORT, is that we already have about a 50/50 balance between exports and imports, so we are already really good at handling export-related products. A lot of that is driven by the confluence of a variety of different modes of transportation here—rail, roads, a lot of infrastructure that allow us to reach very quickly into roughly a population base of 60 million people. So it’s very easy for freight to move in and out of JAXPORT. We have an attractive cost for manufacturers and distributors of product that is moving overseas. I think one of the most important attributes is an abundant supply of skilled labor here that has really allowed many of these export-related companies to build a solid [base] and effectively move their product from Jacksonville.
Global Trade: I would think you’re probably in one of the most unique environments in the country, because Florida, it’s not the biggest state and there are so many competitive ports where you’re at. What are some of the things that you tell an exporter sets JAXPORT apart?
Brian Taylor: If you’re setting up a distribution center or a manufacturing plant, the rental cost per square foot to set up facilities here is in many cases less than our ports to the north and as much as 40 percent less than other metropolitan areas here in the state of Florida. So we have an attractive base upon which to build a business. It’s all about how quickly freight can move from one mode of transportation to another, so direct rail connectivity to our ports allows freight to move efficiently from the land side of the structure to the ships. We have 16 or 18 global carriers that are now calling in Port of Jacksonville and giving our customers a multitude of different choices and ways to move their freight once they get it here.
Global Trade: Is there anything else unique to your port?
Brian Taylor: A unique attribute that is very quickly coming to the forefront in Jacksonville is the development of LNG fueling capabilities here. As you probably have heard, two of the carriers that service the Puerto Rican trade serving Jacksonville have invested a lot of money in two new vessels for each of those companies that will be fueled by liquefied natural gas. So we are working closely with a number of different entities to establish a liquefaction capability here, allowing for the fueling of these ships initially for the eventual exportation of this liquefied natural gas to other global markets around the world. If you think about the fact that in the next eight to 10 years roughly 30 percent of the global fleet will be using some form of liquefied natural gas, I really believe this puts Jacksonville in the forefront of a major developing initiative.
The track record has been phenomenal in terms of what the state of Florida has done in the development of maritime infrastructure and also shore-side infrastructure. Here in Jacksonville, just in the last two years, the state has pumped in over $120 million into our facility alone, and I believe the number is well over a half-billion dollars in the state of Florida in the last two years. The state is really putting its money where its mouth is. Part of that is geared toward developing more export capabilities and facilities that are capable of facilitating that transition of freight from roads to maritime and moving on its way to global destinations.
Global Trade: Is the port ready now for Post-Panamax ships?
Brian Taylor: We are already handling some Post-Panamax ships that are today coming through the Suez Canal, but we need to do some infrastructure development at our berths as well as deepening our harbor along with other ports to accommodate the vessels that will likely be the future workhorses here on the East Coast.
Global Trade: How far along are you in that process? Are you still getting your surveys done by the Army Corp of Engineers?
Brian Taylor: We are actually having our Civil Works Review Board with the Corp of Engineers here at the end of February . We’re looking for our case report approving the viable project here by the middle of May.