New business to generate up to 5,600 area jobs; create direct link to Asia

Officials with Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd., (MOL, have announced their intent to sign a 30-year lease agreement on August 3 with the Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT), providing the city’s first direct container ship service between Jacksonville and Asia.

The new agreement will create more than 1,800 new private sector port jobs in Jacksonville, while supporting operations in trucking, distribution and related services could generate a total of 5,600 direct and indirect local jobs. These projections are made by Martin Associates, a Lancaster, Pennsylvania consulting firm widely-recognized as an expert in the evaluation of economic impacts created by maritime activity.

Martin Associates projects the economic impact from this new business for the Jacksonville community to be $870 million annually, including wages paid to private sector port workers; local and state taxes paid by area companies engaged in the service; revenue earned by businesses involved in the operations; and local services and supplies purchased by maritime-related companies related to Asian trade.

Officials with MOL and JAXPORT plan to formally sign an agreement on August 3, followed immediately by a groundbreaking ceremony on JAXPORT property at Dames Point in Northeast Jacksonville, where MOL’s new terminal will be built.

Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton hailed the announcement as a significant economic development achievement for Jacksonville.

“This contract is exciting news for JAXPORT and for our city,” said Mayor Peyton. “It is a perfect complement to our efforts to create high-paying jobs and increase economic prosperity, and we are delighted to welcome MOL and its integral role in growing business at Jacksonville’s port.”

While shipping lines have historically brought vehicle cargoes such as automobiles from Asia to Jacksonville, this agreement marks the first time a company will regularly ship cargo containers—full of consumer goods such as textiles, clothing, machinery, refrigerated cargo and raw materials such as paper and cotton—directly between Jacksonville and Asia.

“This opportunity is consistent with our strategy of expanding our terminal operations in the United States, as well as enhancing service for our customers by providing them with multiple, cost-effective service alternatives,” stated Hiroyuki Sato, Deputy President, MOL, Ltd. “We believe the new terminal at Dames Point will become a major gateway for service between the rapidly growing Southeast U.S.-Asia and US-Latin America markets,” added Sato.

In addition to the 5,600 jobs and $870 million impact for the Northeast Florida economy, the Port’s agreement:

  • Creates about $7 million annually in new revenue for JAXPORT.
  • Makes MOL the largest JAXPORT tenant by acres leased, annual revenue generated and number of cargo containers handled annually.
  • Creates a direct link for Jacksonville-area companies looking to import or export with Asian nations.
  • Enhances JAXPORT’s efforts to diversify beyond its historic trading partners in Latin America and the Caribbean, which currently account for about 75% of all maritime trade in Jacksonville.
  • Initially increases the number of cargo containers shipped through JAXPORT by 50%, making JAXPORT one of only a dozen US ports to handle more than one million containers annually. In 2004, JAXPORT facilities handled 727,000 containers. Plans call for the new terminal to handle 360,000 teus annually, and this number could grow to more than 800,000 teus annually, pushing JAXPORT’s annual container volumes past 1.5 million annually—making JAXPORT one of the largest container ports on the US East Coast.

William C. Mason, Ed.D., Chairman of JAXPORT’s Board of Directors, said the City’s new direct connection with Asia will make Jacksonville more attractive for a host of businesses to grow or begin operations in Northeast Florida.

“We are opening a doorway to Asi