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Study: Florida can become No. 1 job-creating state

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s study, “Florida Trade and Logistics Study,” says Florida has the potential of creating 143,000 jobs. The study was commissioned by the Foundation in partnership with Florida Department of Transportation and other public and private organizations.

Earlier this year the Florida Chamber called for the doubling of Florida-origin exports in five years and achieving economic diversification. The study shows that Florida can emerge from a trailing position to become the leader for a new economy. It assessed the statewide multimodal transportation assets and makes recommendations aligning these assets with the projections of increased freight movement both domestically and globally.

“This comprehensive study highlights the importance of investing in Florida’s trade and logistics future,” said Al Stimac, president of the Manufacturer’s Association of Florida. “This investment is essential to Florida becoming a major global competitor and job creator and fits fully in Governor-elect Scott’s 7-7-7 Plan.”

Florida is uniquely positioned in the center of the hemisphere and with the shift in U.S. population to the south, the Panama Canal widening, the resurgence of Latin American and Caribbean trade, and the continued revolution in logistics practices create an opportunity for Florida to become a global trade and logistics hub.

“Florida’s domestic and international trade flows are growing at a rapid pace,” said Bill Johnson, director, Port of Miami. “This study provides the state with a blueprint so that we don’t miss an opportunity to grow along with it.”

“Florida’s population is expected to grow by five million people by the year 2030, and will need 1.52 million more jobs in the next 10 years,” said Dale A. Brill, president of the Florida Chamber Foundation. “The Florida Trade and Logistics Study demonstrates how Florida can create up to 143,000 jobs and be on its way to the number one job creating state in the nation, which is closely aligned with Governor-elect Scott’s economic plan.”

The study identifies seven critical near-term action items that will involve a coordinated effort by economic development, transportation, land use, workforce and related investment stakeholders. The items identified are:

• Support the leadership of the Governor as Florida’s economic development officer and trade ambassador to market Florida as a trade and logistics hub and to attract business investment to the state.

• Expedite plans to create at least one seaport with 50 feet of channel depth and with an on-dock or near-dock rail connection by 2014, the scheduled completion of the Panama Canal expansion.  This seaport would be able to serve as a first port of call for the largest container ships using the Panama Canal. The investment should be coordinated with a focused trade mission to help Florida pursue first call services from Asian container lines, as well as strategic investments in international distribution centers.

• Identify global trade and logistics as a statewide targeted industry and a focus area for Enterprise Florida, Workforce Florida, the Florida Department of Transportation and other state agencies.  The state must strengthen existing marketing, incentives and support services to meet the needs of this cluster.

• Continue efforts to double the value of Florida origin exports over the next five years by pursuing opportunities to place Florida goods in the many containers and other vehicles which currently enter Florida full and leave empty.

• Identify investments needed to maintain and expand Miami International Airport’s role as a global hub, as well as the potential benefits of creating a second tier air cargo hub elsewhere in Florida.

• Advance planning for an integrated statewide network of trade gateways, logistics centers, and transportation corridors through Florida’s Strategic Intermodal System.  The Florida Department of Transportation should work with partners to identify and address critical bottlenecks and connectivity gaps in this system.

• Provide sufficient and reliable funding for future state investments in Florida’s trade, transportation, and economic development systems.

The study builds upon previous Foundation research such as the International and Transportation Cornerstones (1998/1999) and other statewide initiatives such as the Florida Department of Transportation’s Florida Transportation Plan 2060. The study also utilizes the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Six Pillars framework to clearly identify essential areas for strategic development tied to creating jobs, advancing economic growth and diversifying the state’s economy.

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