Area promoted as logistics nerve center

A business group looking for support to boost the area's global logistics status.

By TIMOTHY J. GIBBONS, The Times-Union


The Jacksonville International Business Coalition is trying to turn Jacksonville into the "Silicon Valley of Logistics," enlisting the help of local universities, the Jacksonville Port Authority and companies involved in the industry, among others.

The city and the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce will reach out to local business leaders to do things like help market the area to logistics companies and generate the political will to dredge the St. Johns River, the mayor-lead coalition decided at a Wednesday meeting.

"We need to get the community behind what needs to be done," Mayor John Peyton said at the meeting.

Dredging the river would enable larger, fully loaded ships to dock in Jacksonville, making the city more attractive to steamship lines, while attracting something like a convention of supply-chain managers that would elevate the area's status in the industry. The coalition, formed just over a year ago, grew out of a report commissioned by the city and the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce after the mayor abolished the international business development groups in his office and at the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission.

It is tasked with making the area more hospitable to international businesses in ways big and small, from getting multi-lingual signs at Jacksonville International Airport to creating a work force attractive to international companies.

The city is targeting the logistics and transportation sector as one ripe for growth because of the businesses that are already here as well as the area's transportation resources - such as the port, airport and interstate highway connections. (Logistics is the branch of management that oversees the flow of goods from producer to retailer through the supply chain.)

At Wednesday's meeting, the group reviewed work that had been done to make the area attractive to logistics companies.

Among the more important work completed: The University of North Florida has named its logistics program one of its flagship programs, and Florida Community College at Jacksonville has created a logistics and distribution program leading to a certificate or degree - programs that will help create a broad labor pool for such firms.