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Politics

Florida Chamber Study Shows Trade and Logistics Could Lead to 143,000 Jobs

December 14, 2010 - 6:00pm

On Wednesday, the Florida Chamber Foundation unveiled its study of ports, trade and logistics in the Sunshine State -- and argued that an increased focus on these industries could lead to an additional 143,000 jobs in the state.

The study maintained that Floridas geographic position and the expansion of the Panama Canal expected to be finished in 2014 could lead to increased trade through the Sunshine State, especially if Latin America and the Caribbean rebound from their current sluggish economic climate.

This comprehensive study highlights the importance of investing in Floridas trade and logistics future, said President Al Stimac of the Manufacturers Association of Florida. This investment is essential to Florida becoming a major global competitor and job creator and fits fully in Governor-elect Scotts 7-7-7 plan.

Floridas domestic and international trade flows are growing at a rapid pace, added Bill Johnson of the Port of Miami. This study provides the state with a blueprint so that we dont miss an opportunity to grow along with it.

The study called for Scott to serve as an ambassador of Florida economic development: getting at least one port ready in time for the Panama Canal widening in 2014; creating greater exports of Florida products; expanding Miami International Airport; getting the state DOT to come up with a plan to tie the states hubs together through a strategic intermodal system; and investing in trade and transportation in the future.

There have been efforts to prepare Floridas ports for the Panama Canal expansion which will allow larger vessels from Asia to dock at Atlantic ports. Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, and Rep. Lake Ray, R-Jacksonville, pushed for increased ports funding in the 2010 session, arguing that Florida could lose out to states in the region that are busy preparing for the Panama Canal expansion.

The backers of the study insisted thatone of the focuses of the report was on jobs.

Floridas population is expected to grow by 5 million people by the year 2030, and will need 1.52 million more jobs in the next 10 years, said Dale Brill, president of the Florida Chamber Foundation. The Florida Trade and Logistics Study demonstrates how Florida can create up to 143,000 jobs and be on its way to the No. 1 job-creating state in the nation, which is closely aligned with Governor-elect Scotts economic plan.

Incoming Gov. Rick Scott said on Wednesday that he is open to their suggestions and stressed the important roles Floridas ports play in the Sunshine States economy.

"It's critical that Florida's ports and infrastructure be modernized so that our state's economy is positioned to thrive, said Scott. As trade expands with Latin America, Florida is uniquely positioned to play a major role in international trade.The Chamber's trade and logistics study paints a very clear picture of what must be done to make Florida an international hub for logistics and freight handling, and I will do everything I can as governor to help our state achieve that goal."

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (85) 727-0859.

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