JAXPORT Chief Executive Officer Eric Green this week was tapped as a member of the Jacksonville, Florida, mayor’s informal advisory group on the reopening of city businesses and return of social activities after coronavirus-forced shutdowns.
Mayor Lenny Curry was criticized in the national media for reopening Jacksonville’s parks and beaches April 17 while statewide stay-at-home restrictions remained in place.
The 12 members of the Reopen Jacksonville advisory council include leaders from UF Health, Florida Blue, Total Military Management, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority and Jacksonville Aviation Authority.
“JAXPORT has a very close working relationship with the city of Jacksonville and Mayor Curry’s administration. Given the economic challenges our nation is facing, our role as northeast Florida’s economic engine is as important now as it has ever been. Our port generates more than 26,000 jobs in our community and we are committed to continuing to grow this impact,” Green told American Shipper on Friday.
“We are grateful for the city’s support as we all work together to protect the health, safety and economic vitality of our employees, colleagues and neighbors,” he said.
Green has served as JAXPORT’s CEO since 2017. He joined the port authority in 2005 as the director of government relations.
Jacksonville’s seaport has remained open for business throughout the coronavirus crisis.
“Our cargo terminals are open with no restrictions. However, we have heightened health and safety precautions in place to protect terminal employees. Administrative employees whose jobs can be performed remotely have been asked to telework in accordance with local and state guidelines,” Green said.
Idled cruise ships hosted at JAXPORT during that industry’s shutdown have not interfered with port operations, Green said.
“We will continue the coordinated effort of swapping out cruise and cargo ships as needed at the various berthing locations. The cruise lines have been great partners sharing the berths when needed for cargo operations. Everyone is working together and the process has been relatively seamless,” he said.
Green said JAXPORT’s revenue flow has not ebbed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“JAXPORT’s container volumes were down 8% in March and our auto volumes were down 21%. However, our revenue remained steady. That was due in large part to our diversification in both cargo types and trade lanes,” he said.
“We have had very few blank sailings and are optimistic that the impact on our business will be limited,” Green said. “In a typical month, JAXPORT handles between 50 and 60 container ships. Between February and July, we are aware of only a total of six blank container ship sailings for that six-month period. That number could change because this is a fluid situation, but we continue to see healthy demand.”
In his State of the Port address in February, Green said JAXPORT had a record-setting 2019, handling more than 1.33 million twenty-foot equivalent units, a 5% increase from 2018.
In 2019, JAXPORT moved nearly $4 billion in medical freight, including items like medical devices and equipment and hospital and pharmaceutical supplies.