At first glance, plans to
develop three plots of more than 1,000 acres each in rural Northeast Florida
seem like pipe dreams.
A closer look shows the properties’ connectivity to major interstates and rail lines, making them potential inland ports able to connect to the area’s trade hub, the Port of Jacksonville.
Considering that the majority of goods coming through the port aren’t from or headed to the region, such sites offer less traffic congestion and lower property costs and give customers prime rail and road access, said Deborah Lofberg, the Jacksonville Port Authority’s director of marketing support services.
Development of inland ports is part of the state’s push to position itself as a logistics and trade center, said Todd Powell, who is overseeing the development of one of the sites and is on the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors. The sites’ attractiveness for manufacturing also factors into the state’s push for high-tech aviation and biomedical equipment production.
“The state of Florida is just one big dock in the ocean,” said Powell, director of the southern region for Plum Creek Timber Co. Inc. “Florida is going to have a role as a major exporter.”
The following sites are being developed to become inland ports:
Plum Creek Timber is marketing about 2,500 acres east of Lake City on U.S. 90. The site, which is close to Interstate 10 and Interstate 75, has rail spur service to CSX Corp. and Norfolk Southern Corp.’s lines. About 600 acres of the property have been designated by the state as a catalyst industrial site, Powell said.
1,800-acre site between Bryceville and Callahan in Nassau County is being
marketed similarly. The site is about 16 miles from Interstate 95 and 18 miles
from Interstate 10, said Jeff Lawrence, manager of TerraPointe LLC, a
wholly-owned subsidiary of Rayonier Inc. The site also has access to CSX and
Norfolk Southern lines.
Roberts Land and
Timber Investment Corp. are marketing more than 1,500 acres at Interstate 10 and
U.S. Highway 90 in Baker County. The more than 10 million square feet of
industrial space connects to CSX’s rail line.
The authority aims to have a magnet intermodal site in each of the four counties that neighbor Jacksonville. Lofberg said she is still looking for such a site in Clay and St. Johns counties. When the authority receives approval to change the border of the port’s foreign trade zone, sites within 60 miles of the port will be able to offer tenants thousands of dollars’ worth of duty and excise tax savings.
The authority expects to get federal permission in 2011 to bring foreign trade zones to companies instead of forcing companies to move within the zone.
Companies could then get foreign trade zone designation in about 30 days instead of several months. Importers and exporters that operate within Jacksonville’s foreign trade zone can realize these advantages:
through the zone are free of duties and excise taxes as long as their final
destination is outside of the U.S. This will appeal to companies planning to tap
into new Asian shipping services.
Duties on the
goods entering the U.S. are determined by the product’s highest value. This can
be attractive to companies who assemble within the zone because they only pay on
the final product instead of all the parts.
can be consolidated and filed weekly, as opposed to being filed daily as
required outside the foreign trade zone. Not only can money be saved by doing
less paperwork, but also the electronic system used reduces the risk of customs
penalties and cargo being held up.