Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ports Busy Courting Auto Distributor

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ports Busy Courting Auto Distributor

Article excerpt

The ports of Jacksonville and Brunswick are squaring off over a

prime piece of business. At stake are some 400 jobs and at least

$1 million a year in rent.

Southeast Toyota Distributors Inc. is thinking about moving its

auto processing facility from the Port of Jacksonville property

it leases on Talleyrand Avenue. It has been there for 17 years,

its lease expires in three years and it is feeling cramped for

expansion space.

The company now is being serenaded by both ports, but nobody

involved wants to talk much about what offers are being made.

The Georgia Port Authority in Savannah, which operates the Port

of Brunswick, won't talk other than to say very firmly "no

comment."

Whatever the Georgia offer is, it's a matter of concern for

Mike Weinstein, executive director of the Jacksonville Economic

Development Commission. His job description includes making sure

big local employers do not get unhappy and move.

"They [Southeast Toyota] can go there basically for free,"

Weinstein said.

The Jacksonville Port Authority also is courting Southeast

Toyota.

"Our efforts are intense to satisfy and keep them in

Jacksonville," said Rick Ferrin, vice president in charge of the

JPA's marine division.

The elements the JPA is juggling as it works with the company

include more land both at the port and elsewhere, and better

rail access, Ferrin said.

Southeast Toyota itself won't say much either -- but then, it

doesn't need to.

"We are doing an analysis and studying our options," said

Allyson Von Holten, a spokeswoman for JM Family Enterprises Inc.

of Deerfield Beach, which owns Southeast Toyota.

Southeast Toyota processes and prepares 140,000 cars and trucks

a year at its 43.4-acre waterfront terminal on Talleyrand Avenue

before sending them to its dealers for sale. …

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