Tallahassee, Florida - Florida's goal of transforming itself into a global hub for trade takes a step forward with an announcement by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
Disney is changing its logistics plan and will now import 75 percent of its merchandise through JaxPort in Jacksonville. The goods will go through JaxPort's state-of-the-art TraPac Container Terminal, which opened in 2009.
Previously Disney imported merchandise through the Port of Savannah in Georgia. The shift to JaxPort is expected to save the company money.
Florida Chamber of Commerce President Mark Wilson welcomes the announcement. Wilson says it shows that Florida is lowering the cost of doing business here and sending a signal to the world.
"We've reduced our corporate income taxes. We've reduced over 270 regulations this year. Two years ago we reduced the cost of our Florida ports. We passed legislation that made our ports faster and we made them cheaper. It's cheaper now to come into a Florida port than it is to some of our competing states and the rest of the world, with the announcement that Disney World made today, is paying attention and I think that means good news for Florida's future."
The Florida Chamber has been urging state leaders in recent years to put more emphasis on global trade through Florida's 15 ports. Florida has four of the nation's top 20 container ports, including JaxPort and Miami.
"We're going to grow by six million more people in 20 years. So we have a real opportunity to create over 100,000 new jobs in the next five years by increasing the volume that's coming into and out of our ports," said Wilson.
He says 60 percent of the goods that come into Florida have historically traveled through ports in other states and that, Wilson believes, doesn't make sense.
But state lawmakers have passed bills in recent years to lower costs at ports across Florida, such as eliminating duplicative port security regulations.
Wilson says that action alone has helped some Florida ports save between $25 million and $30 million a year.