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$238 million JaxPort expansion enters new phase ahead of schedule

Cape Sounio, the largest container ship to ever visit Jacksonville, arrived at JaxPort's Blount Island terminal earlier this year.
Cape Sounio, the largest container ship to ever visit Jacksonville, arrived at JaxPort's Blount Island terminal earlier this year.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Construction on a new international container terminal is now under way at the Jacksonville Port Authority’s Blount Island.

A ceremonial groundbreaking was held Friday on the $238 million SSA Marine facility. With the ability to handle more cargo and accommodate more ships, the port expansion is expected to create or protect about 3,500 over the next decade.

“It’s a beautiful day and that might be a sign in itself," said Vincent Cameron, president of the International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1408. “It’s cold now, but look at this day. Even God is smiling down on us today.”

It’s been a year of movement for JaxPort. In August the port authority released its economic report which showed that 26,282 people in the Jacksonville area are employed in port-dependent positions -- direct, indirect and induced jobs relying on the port. This figure represents a nearly 8% increase over a previous study conducted in 2013.

The port’s total economic value of $31.1 billion has also increased by 15% during this time. The study finds that 138,500 jobs across the state of Florida are related to cargo moving through Jacksonville’s port.

U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administrator, Rear Adm. Mark Buzby, said that with Jacksonville being one of 17 strategic seaports, this ups the ante for competition. He says this also highlights JaxPort’s importance overall.

At Friday’s ceremony, Buzby presented JaxPort Vice-Chairman Jamie Shelton and CEO Eric Green with a $20 million Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grant.

“This is where we move military cargo in and out in times of crisis or in during a national emergency," Buzby said. "Keeping that capability tuned up is very, very important too, which is why we’re very happy to make this investment.”

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and U.S. Reps. John Rutherford and Ted Yoho and other dignitaries attended Friday’s groundbreaking.

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(JaxPort photo of Friday's ceremony)

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