Mickey Mouse joined state, city and JaxPort officials Tuesday morning to announce that Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has started importing most merchandise headed to its central Florida parks through JaxPort.
The Jacksonville Port Authority, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and TraPac announced Tuesday that Walt Disney Parks and Resorts began importing most of the Florida merchandise through JaxPort's TraPac Container Terminal at Dames Point, a shift that underscores the port's growing attractiveness to shippers.
Port officials said the move also reflects the significance of MOL's investment in JaxPort and commitment to Jacksonville. The Tokyo-based shipping company opened its $300 million, state-of-the-art TraPac Container Terminal at Dames Point in 2009. TraPac is the U.S. terminal operating arm of MOL.
Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll joined Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, JaxPort CEO Paul Anderson, Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson and MOL (America) Vice President Dennis Sheehan in welcoming special guests from Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, U.S., Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Anthony Connelly, and surprise guest Mickey Mouse to the docks for the announcement.
Anderson said this particular deal is not so much about creating jobs, "It's really about the opportunity that this brings and what it says to the rest of the world, that Florida's ports, JaxPort included, are open for business in order to serve Florida’s consumers."
This is the first time goods headed for purchase at Walt Disney World Resort in central Florida will come through Jacksonville.
"This is what all of us in Florida want," Anderson said. "We want the products our Florida citizens and visitors buy brought in through our ports, not brought by truck or train from somewhere out of state."
"This is not only a smart business decision but will also enable us to continue to build on the positive impact we have on Florida's economy," Connelly said. "Today, the economic activity generated by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts accounts for 2.5 percent our state's gross domestic product and for more than one out of every 50 jobs in Florida."
Disney joins a growing list of companies that have shifted business to take advantage of JaxPort's services. That list includes Rooms to Go, Michaels Stores, Haverty's Furniture, Coach, Bridgestone, PSS World Medical, Sears, Samsonite, Maxwell House and Unilever.
In the past, Disney used the port in Savannah, Ga., for shipping but said the decision to move 75 percent of its business to Jacksonville is part of an effort to save money, which the mayor hopes will bring more opportunity to JaxPort.
"The average salary at the port is about $44,000 a year, and I think coming to a port that is very effective and efficient, allowing the businesses to leverage their assets will position ourselves, as the governor said, to compete in a global economy," Brown said.
The Florida Chamber Foundation's 2010 Trade and Logistics Study found that 53 percent of Asian imports to Florida were being shipped in through out-of-state ports. The report also identified more than 8 million tons of Asian imports that were trans-loaded and shipped as domestic cargo into Florida.