Florida chamber targets Miami International Airport as cargo magnet
By Zachary S. Fagenson
A Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation report on the opportunities for global trade in the state calls specifically for improvements to Miami International Airport but doesn't cite which port in the state should be dredged to a 50-foot depth.
Improvements to Florida's international trade logistics infrastructure, the study said, could add 32,000 jobs to the state's economy in the coming years as well as $3.3 billion in business sales, $2.1 billion in personal income and $193 million in state and local tax revenues.
Foundation President Dale Brill presented the initial findings of the report to the state senate's Transportation and Economic Development Committee this month. The full report was released last week.
A laundry list of steps state agencies and private entities, based on the chamber's six pillars — key areas for economic growth — can take to seize on those includes everything from building international business and foreign language skills among Florida's workforce to developing and maintaining high-capacity rail, water and truck cargo corridors.
Other suggestions include marketing the state as a trade gateway and logistics hub, providing support for export-oriented manufacturing business and bolstering incentives for Florida-based distributors and manufacturers.
The report includes a snapshot of the current state of the industry, which included more than a half a million employees in 2008 earning wages nearly 30% more than the average of all other industries in the state.
"Including spin-off jobs in related industries, trade and logistics support about 1.7 million jobs in Florida, nearly 22% of employment in the state," the report said.
Locally, it found that Miami International Airport is one of the top 15 cargo gateways in the world.
Broadly, the report calls for Florida to "capture a larger share of the containerized imports originating in Asia and serving Florida businesses and consumers, about half of which enter the nation through seaports in other states today."
Additionally, the report said, more Florida-made goods should be exported while the state should continue capitalizing on its position as the center of the Americas and "emerge as a global hub for trade and investment."
Along with deepening of one of the state's ports, the report calls for the state to ensure there's enough money to fund future improvements to a "multimodal" logistics system.
It also seeks state economic development agencies to prioritize developing global trade and logistics, continued work to double Florida exports over the next five years, making efforts to "identify investments needed to maintain and expand Miami International Airport's role as a global hub" and work to integrate the state's entire logistics infrastructure.
The biggest future opportunities for trade industry, the report states, will come from Asian ports, with eight in China, Taiwan and South Korea all undergoing improvements that are to add capacity for an additional 40 million containers annually.
But simply building out the infrastructure isn't all that's needed.
"It's not simply ports and airports," said economist, Enterprise Florida board member and St. Thomas University business school Dean J. Antonio Villamil, "it's how you logistically connect ports and airport. It's multimodal. The new logistics of 21st century are fast and low cost."
Dredging channel to Port of Miami may add 32,000 jobs. Read the developing story when you subscribe to e-Miami Today.