Cargo activity through the Jacksonville, Fla., seaport had a nearly $31.1 billion economic impact on the region and state in 2018, according to a study by Martin Associates released this week.
The study, “The Local and Regional Economic Impacts of the Port of Jacksonville, 2018,” concluded that 26,282 people are employed in port-dependent positions. That’s a nearly 8% increase from a study conducted in 2013. Martin Associates also said 138,500 jobs across the state of Florida are related to cargo moving through JAXPORT.
“Of the 26,282 direct, induced and indirect jobs, 10,876 direct jobs are generated by the marine cargo and vessel activity,” the report said. “The cargo activity at the port facilities owned by JAXPORT creates 9,432 of the direct jobs. In addition, there are 1,443 direct jobs created by the movement of containers, liquid bulk and dry bulk at the private terminals.”
Martin Associates defined induced jobs as those “created locally and throughout the regional economy due to purchases of goods and services by those directly employed. These jobs are with grocery stores, the local construction industry, retail stores, health care providers, local transportation services, etc. and would also be discontinued if seaport activity were to cease.”
Across the street from Talleyrand Marine Terminal in Jacksonville is Portside Grille, a favorite among port workers, law enforcement and local residents for its hearty breakfasts, fried chicken and meat smoked on the premises.
“When the port is at peak time, I’m at peak time,” Portside Grille owner Jeff Farah told Action News Jax.
Farah welcomed the economic impact study and expects that as JAXPORT’s business grows, so will his.
“I’ll continue to invest in my business as well,” Farah told Action News Jax.
JAXPORT said it is the nation’s second-largest vehicle-handling port, moving more than 665,000 units last year, and the study found that every 1,000 vehicles that move through the port support 1.6 direct local jobs.
The port’s 2018 total economic value of $31.1 billion is a 15% increase since the last study.
JAXPORT’s Asian container trade is a primary driver of the port’s containerized cargo growth, up 89% since 2013, according to the study.
The port said it has achieved significant Asian volume increases following the 2017 decision by its board of directors to begin deepening the Jacksonville shipping channel to 47 feet.
“The more we continue to invest in this port and grow our reputation as a global gateway into the Southeast U.S., the more jobs we create for our neighbors and the more revenue we put back into our area’s economy,” JAXPORT CEO Eric Green said.
The report said the “growth in Asian cargo at JAXPORT is significant as it results in a diversification of trade routes served by JAXPORT and underscores the importance of the development of a deeper channel to accommodate the increasingly larger ships deployed on the Asian all-water trade lanes.”
In an Aug. 5 press release announcing the results of the Martin Associates study, the port said the harbor-deepening project “is ahead of schedule and expected to be complete in 2023, based on continued funding from all partners.”
According to the port, “The import and export cargo moving via the public and private terminals supports 138,487 related user jobs with the state’s manufacturing and retail and wholesale and distribution industries and the in-state industries supporting the movement and distribution of commodities, primarily concentrated with containerized cargo imports and exports using the seaport terminals for shipment and receipt of cargo.”
The report did say that total tonnage moving via the public and private marine terminals declined by 1.2 million tons between 2013 and 2017.
“The tonnage decline was driven by the reduction in dry bulk cargo, most notably the loss of coal due to the closing of the JEA power plant since 2013,” the report said.
“Tonnage losses were also recorded for imported steel products, reflecting the impact of the steel import tariffs imposed by the current administration.
“In addition, the port no longer handles refrigerated breakbulk cargo, reflecting the loss of the breakbulk export markets as well as the shift to containerizing refrigerated products that were previously shipped in breakbulk form.
“In contrast, containerized cargo grew by nearly 1 million tons since 2013,” the report continued. “Actual containers handled at JAXPORT increased from about 448,600 moves in 2013 to 628,000 moves in 2018, a growth of 40% over the five years.”
The report said that in 2018, activity at the port’s public and private marine terminals generated $2.6 billion for businesses providing cargo-handling and vessel services.
“About 34% of the $2.6 billion revenue impact is received by trucking and rail operations, followed by bunkering operations and linehaul barge towing. The majority of the surface transportation revenue is received by the trucking firms. Warehouse operations account for about 13% of the total direct revenue impact.”
Martin Associates said it used data collected from interviews with and survey responses from 465 firms providing services to the cargo and vessels handled at the port’s marine terminals and private terminals within the port district.
“The Port of Jacksonville continues to be a major catalyst in economic growth in northeastern Florida,” Martin Associates said in the report. “The investment in port infrastructure, such as the initiation of the deepening of the St. John’s River to accommodate the larger containerships now deployed in the world trade, the development of a new container terminal at Blount Island and the development of an Intermodal Container Transfer Station (ICTF), has resulted in significant job growth over the 2013-2018 period.”