Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Deeper Harbor, a Stronger Jacksonville

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Deeper Harbor, a Stronger Jacksonville

Article excerpt

If Jacksonville's port is to remain competitive, it must not turn away from all the opportunities before it.

That means deepening the port, as has been done for over 100 years.

Ships are getting bigger.

With federal and state help, Jacksonville is on the way to funding a necessary port deepening plan.

The critics are widespread.

But the history of progress in this country is replete with naysayers

Like the skeptics who called the Dames Point Bridge a "bridge to nowhere."

Or the "black hats" who 50 years ago sought to retain the status quo and keep intact a corrupt city government and an underperforming county government.

The voices of the business community and those who are involved in the port need to be heeded.

They know the value of a deeper channel.

Jacksonville's port is a lifeline for this economy.

We must go forward.

This is no time to take a backward step.

ECONOMIC BENEFITS

The economic impact has been questioned by several experts, but we are more impressed by facts provided by JaxPort. We should not allow the wave of cynicism and skepticism that aims to torpedo the dredging project to diminish this reality:

Deepening the harbor, by any objective measure, will have a significant and positive impact on Jacksonville's and Florida's economies.

- According to data produced for the Florida Department of Transportation, every dollar invested in the deepening will return $16 to $24 to the state's economy.

JaxPort is likely to be at the high end of that ratio, given its growing stake in the Asian trade market - which has increased by 57 percent in a fiveyear period.

There are commitments from customers to bring in more cargo on bigger ships once JaxPort has a deeper harbor capable of handling them.

- According to the most recent estimates, JaxPort supports some 130,000 jobs in Northeast Florida - more than 24,000 directly in Jacksonville - and it's realistically estimated that 15,000plus new jobs will be created by the dredging.

That's a conservative estimate.

And that means more than 15,000 new people who are making a living in our area - and pumping money for homes, apartments, groceries, clothing, medical care, entertainment and other areas into our economy.

- Among the local industries and facilities that directly or indirectly benefit from JaxPort include: trucking, warehousing, distribution centers, manufacturing, supply chain management, retail, rail transportation, freight forwarding, transportation service providers and vocational programs.

All of them will reap the economic advantages of a JaxPort that boasts a deeper harbor that attracts larger ships and increased volumes of cargo.

A more prosperous JaxPort will also increase the level of intangible benefits for our community - namely, by providing opportunities and hope for local residents who might otherwise lack either. …

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