Two years ago, California’s shipping supply chain debacle threatened to be the grinch that stole Christmas. But, Florida’s seaports answered America’s call to get shipping cargo moving by encouraging ships to change lanes and set sail for Florida. With the necessary deep-water port infrastructure in place, and leading road, rail and air connectivity in place, Florida was prepared to meet the challenge.
Our success was almost immediate, as new global ocean carrier services began calling on our reliable, resilient and ready seaports. Those successes continue today, and Florida’s economy has been the benefactor.
Florida ports support 900,000 direct and indirect jobs, resulting in $117.6 billion in economic value. That’s 13.3 percent of Florida’s GDP.
That success has propelled Florida to its rightful position on the international trade hub stage, but, it has also garnered increasing competition from neighboring states and their attempts to encroach on our success.
Texas Governor Greg Abbot recently approved an historic $200 million for 31 different seaport projects, that’s more than Florida’s typical $135-$149 million annually for about 14 port infrastructure projects.
Georgia, by far Florida’s closest and fiercest competitor, is expanding its Brunswick port facility in an attempt to become the largest hub for automobile imports. This is a very direct threat to Florida’s largest automobile importing seaport.
Now is the time to Seas the Opportunity, and ensure that Florida’s role as an international trade hub continues to progress. We literally face a fork in the road decision – we either make significant investments to allow Florida to seize the growing global trade opportunity, or we allow it to pass us by for states like California, Georgia and others on the Eastern seaboard, including New York and New Jersey.
As we prepare for the 2024 Legislative Session, lawmakers will be asked to make significant infrastructure investments in our seaports. These investments will shore up dock rehabilitation, increase port capacity, support cargo container handling cranes, improve connectivity, relieve congestion and more.
The investments needed are significant, but the results will lead to more jobs for Florida’s growing population, and more revenue to the Sunshine State to support broader growth.
Let’s Seas the Opportunity to invest in Florida global trade success, and never allow the grinch to threaten Christmas again.
PS: Mark your calendars and make plans to attend the Florida Ports Council Legislative Forum in Tallahassee on January 31 – February 1, 2024.