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ImpactJAX hosts educational forum at JAXPORT

ImpactJAX, the young professional program of the JAX Chamber, hosted “JAXPORT: Sailing into Jacksonville’s Future,” a special educational event about Jacksonville’s port. The program included an overview of the port, its current uses and how future development will impact young professionals and the community.

“The port is Northeast Florida’s primary economic engine, and it is important for all Jacksonville citizens, particularly young professionals, to understand the connection between the port’s future development and bringing more high-quality, high-paying jobs to our region,” said ImpactJAX Chair Suzie Hutto of CSX Transportation. “The health of our port and the health of the region’s businesses are tied together.”

The program featured a panel discussion moderated by Jacksonville Business Journal Publisher David Sillick. The panelists included JAXPORT Chief Operating Officer Chris Kauffman, Mayor Alvin Brown’s State Affairs Liaison Mario Rubio, Steven Ross of the Army Corps of Engineers and Dawn Russell of the University of North Florida’s Transportation and Logistics Flagship Program.

The community leaders engaged in a lively discussion about what port improvements are needed, the source of funding for those improvements and the impact on Jacksonville’s future development. The port’s future is threatened by a navigational restriction in the St. Johns River known as Mile Point. As a result of this restriction, large ships are limited to a 4 ½ hour window twice a day.

“Correcting the Mile Point issue will bring more business to our port and create more than 3,500 jobs throughout the region,” said JAX Chamber president Wally Lee. “We also need a deeper harbor to handle the bigger container ships that will arrive on the East Coast in several years when the newly expanded Panama Canal opens.”

The port is Northeast Florida’s primary economic engine, supporting 65,000 jobs and generating more than $19 billion in annual economic impact, as reported in 2009 by the maritime research firm, Martin Associates. More information is available at www.myjaxchamber.com.


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