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Port May Be Near Asian Carrier Deal

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Port may be near Asian carrier deal

Shipping line would carry cargo between Far East and First Coast

By TIMOTHY J. GIBBONS, The Times-Union

The Jacksonville Port Authority may be close to signing up an Asian shipping line that would carry cargo between the Far East and the First Coast, port officials said before heading to California to work on the deal.

Executive Director Rick Ferrin has been trying to hook an Asian carrier since he came to Jacksonville in 1997 from the Port of Oakland, where the vast majority of the trade is done with Asia.

"This could be the single best thing to happen to the port since its inception," the executive director said.

Over the next few days, Ferrin and two of his senior directors -- Chris Kauffmann, who handles terminal operations and Roy Schleicher, who handles trade development and marketing -- will meet with an unnamed shipping company in California to discuss plans for the company to set up shop in Jacksonville. In the past, some of the executives went to Asia, where they visited shipping companies in China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

Unlike at earlier conversations, port Chief Financial Officer Ron Baker will also be on hand to work on financial details of the deal, an inclusion that points to more serious conversations.

Historically, Jacksonville's shipping has been focused on the Caribbean, where half of the ships from here head -- Puerto Rico is the single largest market the port deals with -- and South America, which makes up another quarter of the traffic.

The small amount of trade Jacksonville now has with Asia -- 2.78 percent of the total volume -- is entirely made up of automobiles, with the port being one of the largest car importers in the country.

Creating a connection with China could be a huge boon for the port, Ferrin said, pointing to the more than 55-million tons of containerized goods imported from China through other U.S. ports in the past year.

Last year, the Jacksonville port handled the equivalent of 727,600 20-foot-long containers: Shipments from China could add 360,000 containers to the mix, Ferrin said.

timothy.gibbonsjacksonville.com, (904) 359-4103

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This could be huge news for JaxPort with Mitsubishi also considering moving back

in. Whoever is running the port is doing a great job recruiting new buisness.

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We may never know. All that I can say is that if the economy in Jax is booming

soley because of the Super Bowl, we need to do all in our power to get another

ASAP!! I would say that the game did nothing more than reintroduce our already

steadfast city/regional economy to the rest of the world. A huge growth spirt is

proof enough for me that positive exposure (aka The Superbowl) works wonders

on a city's economy. Especially one as strong as Jax's.

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^ JaxPort is an ideal location for a seaport, and the St. Johns River is more than capable of volumes that it would undertake.

I dont think hosting a Super Bowl had anything to do with that... lets not start crediting every growth spurt the city has on the SB,...

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I mentioned the SB, is because it gave the port a unique opportunity to showcase itself to several corporations with the cruise ships docked there and the pace of positive economic announcements concerning the port has increased lately.

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Personally, I dont care if it was the SB, Incentives, good management, or something no mroe complex than they liked the way they were treated at Wendy's. Any additional business whether to the ports, dowtown, beaches, whereever, is a good thing. Especially when you are talking about something as large as this.

All I have to say is Bring it On.

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SuperBowl, seen in Asia, new deal in Asia, Jax normally does 2.78% of trade with Asia...coincidence? Maybe, but to give potential credit to the SB is extremely likely. Of course I'm not taking anything away from the JPA administration that is putting this together either.

Good job all around.

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Well, I do remember reading about some businessman at the SB who was impressed by the port. I think he had talked to the mayor about doing some port business down here.

But I don't think that guy was Asian. But this is great news, and I hope to see JaxPort expand!

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