Can Florida help solve national shipping delays?

JaxPort, Florida avoiding supply chain bottlenecks seen elsewhere around the country

Major companies plan to expand their operations at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports to speed the flow of items. The Florida Ports Council is asking shipping companies to come to the Sunshine State instead.

As shipping delays plague the country, experts in Florida are working to alleviate the backups.

According to a report from News4Jax sister station WKMG in Orlando, the goal of the Florida Ports Council is to divert some shipments from Asia, Mexico and Europe to Florida.

Florida ports have avoided the supply chain bottlenecks seen in places like California, which is typically the shortest route from Asia. To help relieve the backlog, the Florida Ports Council is asking shipping companies to come to the Sunshine State instead.

“Look at us, look at what we will do for you. Give us a chance. We’ll show you that you don’t have to see us at the end of the United States, you can see us at the beginning of the United States,” President of Florida Ports Council Mike Rubin told WKMG.

In a statement, JaxPort said it is not experiencing the backlogs seen at some of the nation’s other gateway container ports.

“Throughout the pandemic, there has been no wait for vessels to get into JAXPORT and we have ample space at our docks to handle ships as soon as they arrive.

JAXPORT’s diversification of trade lanes helps shield us from extreme impacts due to volatility: because ships calling JAXPORT sail to and from destinations around the world, we are able to adapt more easily to disruption in a particular trade lane (in this case, Asia) than a port that is reliant on one particular trade lane or cargo type.

The investments our elected officials have made in JAXPORT over the years, as well as their support throughout the pandemic, make us well-positioned to serve the needs of today’s supply chain.”

WKMG reports that schools that train truck drivers are also looking to fill openings because truck drivers are in high demand. Brad Ball, president of Roadmaster Drivers School, told WKMG students are almost guaranteed a job within 24 hours of course completion.

“Demand is through the roof right now. We have never been contacted by so many companies daily as we are now of people trying to hire our graduates,” Ball said. “Most of our graduates are pre-hired, even before they start school. They are app screened to make sure they are employable before they start. Then we have multiple carriers that are interested in hiring our graduates.”

With a rush to fill open positions, The Florida Trucking Association said that new drivers are being offered generous bonuses. Alix Miller, president of The Florida Trucking Association told WKMG the current driver shortage was caused by a combination of consumer demand changes, and an influx in retirements during the pandemic.

“It’s a baby boomer generation career and we just haven’t replenished those drivers yet, so that’s real, that’s the real opportunity and goal for the industry right now, is to find that next generation,” Miller said.

Miller also said the industry is working hard to make sure store shelves are filled as the holidays approach.

About the Authors:

Troy graduated from California State University Northridge with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication. He has reported on Mexican drug cartel violence on the El Paso/ Juarez border, nuclear testing facilities at the Idaho National Laboratory and severe Winter weather in Michigan.