On December 13, Florida Governor Rick Scott celebrated a milestone for the state's seaports: since 2012, Florida's 15 major ports have created more than 200,000 jobs, according to a new study by the Florida Ports Council.
In addition, these facilities create about $15 billion in direct business revenue every year, plus another $5 billion in activity from re-spending and local consumption. The ports employ about 60,000 people and support an additional 840,000 related jobs. All told, ports are responsible for $40 billion in wages for families across the state.
"Our 15 world class seaports are not only a major economic engine for job creation in Florida, but they also help strengthen Florida’s position as the gateway to Latin America," Governor Scott said. "This great news shows the importance of continuing to make investments in our seaports and our transportation system so Florida can continue to be a leader in job creation and become a global hub for trade.”
Over the last five years, the state has invested more than $1 billion in its ports. Among its other projects, the state split the $220 million cost of the PortMiami channel dredging project with Miami-Dade County, covering what would have been the federal government's $77 million share of the expense. Governor Scott made the decision to pay the federal share so that PortMiami could be ready for larger ships from the Panama Canal Expansion. “We did not wait on the federal government to fund this important project," Scott said last year. "We stepped up because we want Florida to be a global leader in trade." At the time of the dredging 's completion late last year, Scott asserted that Miami was the only port south of Virginia that could handle modern Post-Panamax ships.
Florida's ports expect to make another $3.7 billion in investments over the next five years. If the Florida Ports Council is right, that will mean billions of dollars of new tax revenue: the council calculates that in addition other economic benefits, ports investments generate a seven-fold return in taxes.
These projects will give a big boost to the state's economy, says Brian Taylor, the CEO of JAXPORT. "The upcoming deepening projects at JAXPORT and Port Everglades will increase our international competitiveness even further, enabling us to create and support more Florida jobs," he said. JAXPORT has not been waiting for the future to arrive: its three new post-Panamax container cranes just hoisted their first boxes at the Blount Island Marine Terminal, and the port authority hopes to buy seven more over the next ten years.