July 31, 2014

Special Report

Northeast Fla.: How Bad Is It?

Cynthia Barnett | 11/1/2008

How Bad Is It?Ports
Positive Vibes

“When you’re talking about today’s economic downturn as it affects port business, you’re talking imports. With consumer spending down, imports go down. JaxPort is not as vulnerable as some of the south Florida ports since today our business is fairly balanced between imports and exports.

Smart cars at Jaxport
Smart cars unloading at JaxPort [Photo: JaxPort]
Rick Ferrin
Rick Ferrin [Photo: Kelly LaDuke]
I have actually seen positive numbers in our vehicle business. Many of our import models are fuel efficient and quite popular right now. The number of vehicles we export through Jacksonville has jumped 49% over last year because of the weak dollar overseas and the resulting demand there for American automobiles and heavy equipment. With our new Asian container terminal about to open, JaxPort will handle more imports, but I am confident we’ll feel only slower-than-expected growth rather than a big negative hit. I am also optimistic that manufacturers and suppliers will figure out a way to maintain market share here in the U.S. while we all wait out the downturn.”

Rick Ferrin, executive director, Jacksonville Port Authority


Dan Boyd
Dan Boyd
Education
‘Breaking Point’

“In the more than 40 years I’ve been involved in public education, I’ve never seen an economic crisis like this one. For years, school funding has been absolutely dismal in Florida — and there are plenty of state and national reports to back that up. Somehow, we’ve always managed to make do.

Now I believe we’ve reached the breaking point, and I’m afraid the long-term consequences for our schools, our students and our state will be devastating. Our district has lost $14 million in state funding since this time last year, and we know more cuts are coming.We’ve cut elementary art and music programs in half, cut funding to career/tech and academic magnet programs, reduced elective offerings, drastically reduced transportation, closed a school and taken other painful steps to balance our budget.”

Dan Boyd, superintendent, Alachua County schools

School Enrollment Change
County % Change
(from 2007-08)
Student Change
Alachua -6.28% -1,789
Baker +1.93 +97
Bradford -6.51 -243
Clay -3.17 -1,184
Columbia -1.20 -123
Duval -3.25 -4,148
Gilchrist -4.44 -130
Hamilton -1.07 -21
Levy -4.17 -267
Marion -0.58 -248
Nassau -1.43 -158
Putnam -2.70 -323
St. Johns +4.47 +1,247
Suwannee +1.78 +104
Union +1.76 +41
Source: Florida Department of Education

Tags: Northeast

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