July 28, 2014

The Texas-Florida Connection

Hold Your Horses, Gov. Rick Scott

Can Florida emulate Texas in creating jobs? Here's a comparison.

Cynthia Barnett | 9/28/2011

Geography and History

AllianceFlorida project rendering
Rendering: AllianceFlorida project in Jacksonville. The development is modeled after AllianceTexas. [Photo: AllianceFlorida]

Lone Star State
Alliance's intermodal transportation hub began as a vision of H. Ross Perot Jr., son of the former presidential candidate. But it could not have happened just anywhere. Fort Worth has been a transportation and distribution hub since the 1870s, when the Texas and Pacific Railway's tracks reached town.

North Texas' location smack in the middle of the country — rail and highways link Midwestern markets with ports not only on the Gulf, but on the Pacific and Atlantic oceans — has been a key factor for major corporations deciding to locate here, says Michael K. Berry, president of the Perot family's Hillwood Development, which manages the project. Even without taking into account nearby metros such as Oklahoma City, Texas as a market unto itself has nearly 40% more people than the Sunshine State.

H. Ross Perot Jr.
H. Ross Perot Jr. is the visionary behind AllianceTexas. The project took off after former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright bought into the idea and funneled government money to make the project possible. [Photo: AllianceTexas]
Florida developers have latched onto the intermodal hub idea with a half-dozen inland port projects, hoping to capitalize on the state's proximity to markets as diverse as Latin America, the Caribbean and Atlanta. Hillwood executives see "a lot of growth in the East Coast play," says Berry. But with Florida unable to reinvent its geography or history, it's unlikely that any of the inland ports can develop on the scale of an AllianceTexas. The best Florida prospect may be another Hillwood project — a partnership with the city of Jacksonville to develop a 4,474-acre, multimodal business park/inland port on the city's west side at the former Naval Air Station Cecil Field off Interstate 10. Hillwood has opened an office on site, landed Foreign Trade Zone status for the park and filed site development applications and begun clearing land for its first building.




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Tags: Politics & Law, Around Florida, Government/Politics & Law

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