Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nomination Could Speed CSX Moves

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nomination Could Speed CSX Moves

Article excerpt

Byline: Christopher Calnan, Times-Union staff writer

The nomination of CSX Corp. Chairman John Snow to be Treasury secretary should hasten the move of CSX's headquarters to the First Coast, observers said.

Snow, 63, who was scheduled to retire from CSX in 2004, was chosen by President Bush for the Cabinet post yesterday. The news follows months of speculation that CSX Transportation President Michael Ward will replace Snow and move the parent company's corporate headquarters from Richmond, Va., to Jacksonville.

"Obviously, it probably quickens the ascension of Michael Ward to be chairman of the mother company and probably the relocation of CSX to Jacksonville," political consultant and former CSX employee Mike Tolbert said. "All these things were in the works anyhow; it just quickens it."

Ward has said it wouldn't make sense for CSXT to maintain a headquarters in Richmond, where the company has only 50 employees. About 5,100 CSX employees work in the Jacksonville area, home of its core business, the railroad.

Ward said in April no decision about moving would be made until Snow retired. However, in May, CSXT removed the word "transportation" from atop its Water Street building to pave the way for a corporate office.

"Everything appears to be well set up for things to go in that direction," former CSXT president Pete Carpenter said yesterday.

Industry analysts and city officials have said consolidating CSX's operations in Jacksonville wouldn't be a dramatic change because the company already has a high profile here.

Although Snow wouldn't use his new position to directly boost CSXT or Jacksonville, Carpenter said the Cabinet appointment would help the company, the railroad industry, and even the region -- indirectly.

"If the American economy does well, the railroads should do well; you could say the same thing about Jacksonville," he said. "John won't be parochial or provincial. He's a big thinker and he'd go to work every day thinking about what's good for America."

JEA Managing Director Walt Bussells agreed.

"The nature of that position is really about the big picture," he said. "It's really not even feasible for someone like that to focus on smaller, more regional issues."

A native of Toledo, Ohio, Snow was deputy undersecretary at the Transportation Department under President Ford. He joined the railroad in 1977 as vice president of government affairs with the Chessie System, a CSX predecessor, and became president and chief executive officer of CSX Corp.'s railroad division in 1985.

He lived in Jacksonville for about 18 months during the 1980s, Carpenter said.

Snow has been the company's chief executive officer since 1989. He earned $20.5 million in salary, bonuses and stock options in 2001, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch; CSX posted $8.1 billion in revenue last year. …

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