JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Sunshine State is a leader when it comes to business on the water.
Lawmakers and civic leaders have said for years that the port of Jacksonville makes a huge economic impact. In fact, there's plenty of proof that's true. New data show the benefit to the Northeast Florida region and to the entire state of Florida.
Many people were on hand for an announcement Friday at the Jacksonville Port Authority about the impact of Florida's maritime industry. U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, R- Jacksonville, got right to the point.
"This industry just here in Northeast Florida brings in about 9,120 American jobs with labor," he said.
Rutherford and his congressional colleagues from Florida have fought for federal funding. In Jacksonville, state and local dollars have made a difference, too. The current project is to deepen the harbor and bring even larger ships into the port.
Even so, JaxPort delivers big on dollars and jobs to the region.
"The total gross national impact to Northeast Florida is $2 billion annually. Florida has a vibrant ship-operating industry, including a major center here in Jacksonville," Rutherford said.
JaxPort's chief executive officer joined leaders from TOTE and Crowley -- leaders in the maritime industry -- and companies that moved their headquarters to Jacksonville.
The new report, sponsored by industry advocacy group the Transportation Institute, found that all told, shipping creates over $154.8 billion in annual economic output and sustains over 650,000 American jobs and $41.6 billion in annual labor income. Florida’s role brings almost 21,000 jobs across the state.
"You can’t have a city without good jobs. You’ve heard the statistics on how many jobs there are. These are permanent, high-quality jobs supporting all of us," said Jacksonville City Council President Aaron Bowman.
The newly formed Florida Maritime Partnership protects statewide ports from threats to the Jones Act, which stipulates only American-built vessels with American crews can transport merchandise between domestic ports.