Business Florida 2021 - The Regions
Baker • Clay • Duval • Flagler • Nassau • Putnam • St. Johns
Logistics & Transportation
Looking for seamless connections by land, air and sea? Northeast Florida has the goods. Two deep-water ports, three railroads, two commercial airports, a spaceport and three interstate highways — I-95, I-10 and I-75 — stand ready to provide business owners with easy access to suppliers and the customers they serve.
Amazon is among distribution companies taking full advantage of Northeast Florida’s prime location. The Seattle-based online retailer, which currently operates four facilities in Jacksonville, has three under development and is seeking to add two more. Nearing completion are two Amazon delivery stations on Jacksonville’s west side and another in St. Johns County, and on the drawing board is a delivery station for heavy bulk freight and a 1-million-sq.-ft. distribution center to handle Amazon’s “softlines” (apparel and shoes).
Also helping to grow Northeast’s logistics and transportation sector:
• Beverage distributor Champion Brands, celebrating the completion of its new $6-million, 36,000-sq.-ft. headquarters building in Jacksonville. Founded in 1985, Champion Brands has grown from 80 employees to 320 and currently handles approximately 1,600 products from 62 suppliers worldwide.
• CSX, investing $4.14 million on renovations at its Water Street headquarters building and Warrick Street dispatch facility in Jacksonville. Improvements to flooring, lighting and HVAC systems are planned.
• Four industrial projects are slated to add a total of 1.1 million square feet of warehouse space in north and west Jacksonville. The largest is a 477,362-sq.-ft. speculative building on almost 45 acres in Westlake Industrial Park that would include 2,366 square feet of office space.
JAXPORT, Florida’s largest container port, has continued to break records in three cargo categories. In FY 2019, the port moved more than 1.338 million TEUs, a 5% increase over 2018 and the fourth consecutive year for record container volumes. This port also moved the most vehicles in its history — nearly 696,500 total units — to maintain its position as one of the nation’s busiest vehicle handling ports. Contributing to this growth: strong auto sales in the Southeast combined with growing global demand for previously owned vehicles. And at 10.9 million tons, general cargo volumes were up too — by 4% over 2018. Meanwhile, a harbor deepening project to accommodate bigger cargo container ships continues at JAXPORT thanks to an influx of federal dollars and, in July 2020, the port welcomed Siem Confucius, the world’s first-of-its-size LNG-powered vehicle carrier.
Jacksonville International Airport celebrated its 51st anniversary year in 2019 with 7.1 million passengers, a 16.41% increase over 2018. In March 2020, JIA was one of three medium-sized airports in North America cited for best customer service by the Airports Council International.
And on the roads, Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) efforts to create a transportation hub connecting all modes of transportation from adjacent counties to downtown Jacksonville, including the First Coast Flyer (bus service) and Skyway (monorail), has finally crossed the finish line, sort of. A grand opening of the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center at LaVilla scheduled for March 2020 was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. A partial grand opening took place in early May with bus routes operating on a modified schedule; the JTA administrative offices and Skyway remain closed.
KEY PLAYERS: Amazon, Seattle, Wa.; Crowley Marine, Jacksonville; CSX, Jacksonville; Suddath, Jacksonville
Aviation/Aerospace & Defense
A second launch tenant has arrived at Cecil Spaceport in Jacksonville with plans to send small satellites into low Earth orbit for the military and other government agencies beginning in fall 2021. Huntsville, Ala.-based aerospace contractor Aevum joins existing Spaceport tenant Generation Orbit, which is planning to launch its first satellite from an aircraft out of Cecil within the next year. Owned by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, Cecil Spaceport is one of 11 licensed spaceports in the U.S.
Made in Space, a developer of space manufacturing technology, has relocated its corporate headquarters from Silicon Valley to Jacksonville, citing proximity to Cape Canaveral, the Kennedy Space Center and other aerospace companies as reasons for the move. The firm, which has had a manufacturing and testing presence in Jacksonville since 2015, nearly doubled its footprint at Baymeadows Business Center to accommodate administrative, engineering and production operations. Made in Space is credited with creating the first 3D printer to be used in space.
Jacksonville’s Naval Station Mayport commissioned its latest littoral combat ship — the USS St. Louis — in August 2020. The nearly 390-foot-long ship is the Navy’s 22nd LCS and one of 14 such vessels slated to be homeported at Mayport by 2023. Built by Lockheed Martin, littorals are designed primarily for near-shore missions such as minesweeping in shallow water and can travel at speeds over 40 knots.
KEY PLAYERS: BAE Systems, Farnborough, U.K.; Flightstar Aircraft Services, Jacksonville; Grace Aerospace, Jacksonville; Northrop Grumman, Falls Church, Va.