This morning, I joined the U.S. Maritime Administrator, elected officials, and leaders from SSA Marine and JAXPORT to break ground on a new international container terminal that will bring more jobs and economic opportunities to our region.
The $238 million project to expand and enhance SSA Marine's Jacksonville facility relieved a $20 million BUILD grant from the federal government. The grant funds support the reconstruction of more than 100 acres of existing terminal pavement at the Blount Island facility. Other enhancements in the project are aimed at improving efficiency, storm drainage, lighting, utilities and more.
Jacksonville’s port is a critical economic engine for our city, state, region and nation. The cargo that moves through these docks every year provides jobs that empower families throughout our community. To put things in perspective, in Fiscal Year 2019 JAXPORT moved more than 1.3 million containers (that’s 7,268,429 tons), and trends show that number increasing in coming years.
It is in our best interest to ensure that our port remains strong and competitive in this increasingly global economy, and that means capital investments like the harbor deepening and this terminal project. These enhancements will help companies meet the growing demand after the completion of our harbor deepening project, when more and bigger ships will come calling.
This project will enhance Jacksonville's reputation as a logistics hub for the southeastern United States. Companies that use our port know that we are strategically positioned to reach millions of U.S. consumers. Florida is the third most populous state in the nation and represents a huge market. We are strategically located at the crossroads of critical railways and major interstate highways I-95 and I-10. Because of this, companies can reach 60 million consumers within a one-day truck drive from this port.
JAXPORT, in many ways, is Jacksonville’s gateway to the world. With our port we have a direct connection to Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South America and the Caribbean.
This new international container terminal will strengthen those connections and make Jacksonville an even bigger player on the global stage.
As mayor, I am grateful for JAXPORT CEO Eric Green and the board of directors for their strategic vision and bold action in moving our port, and Jacksonville's economy, forward.