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Cruises and cargo: Striking a balance

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Cruises and cargo: Striking a balance

Economic consultant analyzes strengths, weaknesses of the port

By TIMOTHY J. GIBBONS, The Times-Union

The Jacksonville Port Authority has to decide where to put a permanent cruise ship terminal as it strikes a balance between the amount of cargo and the number of passengers it handles.

Putting the passenger terminal on Blount Island, the only location now being considered, takes space away from more-profitable cargo-handling businesses, which already face a space crunch, warned John Martin, an economic consultant hired by the port to help it devise a marketing strategy.

"There's a tremendous risk of displacing cargo operations," Martin told the board Monday during a meeting at which he presented his final report. "If there's any alternative [to Blount Island], that's where you should look."

Martin's 160-page report analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of the port, giving the board the tools it needs to chart its course for the future, the consultant said. Among his recommendations:

- Secure an Asian shipping line, a goal that port executives say is close to

happening.

- Pursue the creation of distribution centers in order to lure shippers.

- Try to attract paper and woodpulp producers.

- Attempt to have one of the auto processors that now operates at the port

consolidate its business there.

Building facilities, especially on land not located at the port, could be particularly helpful in gaining new customers, said Martin, whose consulting firm was paid $166,000 for the report that its been working on since last year.

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Sounds like more great things to come for Jax Port!!!

I would love to see a cruise terminal separate from the port to class it up. Pine Island sounds like it could be ideal if the city and the port would be willing to build a nice facility. I have always frowned on the idea of getting on a cruise ship from Blount Island. It just seems to industrial.

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DEFINITELY!! That's what I'm a firm believer that there should be a seperate port, preferably downtown, for the cruise lines.

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