Jaxport’s Blount Island Marine Terminal. (Mark Bias for Jaxport)

Florida state legislators have given Jacksonville Port Authority officials a $30 million check to purchase two new ship-to-shore container cranes for the Blount Island Marine Terminal.

While presenting the check recently, State Rep. Paul Renner (R), speaker of the House, said, “Our ports must be well-equipped to meet the growing demands of our region, ensuring that supplies make it into the hands of consumers.”

Renner said Florida lawmakers allocated $30 million in this year’s state budget to Jaxport to cover the costs of buying the two new ship-to-shore cranes to replace outdated equipment.

“The acquisition of these cranes will increase the efficiency and capacity of Jaxport, improving vessel turnaround and supply chain efficiency,” he added, calling attention to the “significant investment” made by the Legislature and approved by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Jaxport check presentation

Florida Legislators presented Jaxport with a $30 million check to be used to purchase two new container cranes for the port’s Blount Island Marine Terminal. (Jaxport)

Of Florida’s 16 seaports, 10 handle containerized cargo. Jaxport fiscal year 2022 statistics revealed the port moved 1.29 million 20-foot-equivalent units. The port’s cargo activity supports more than 139,000 state jobs and provides $31.1 billion in annual economic impact.

Renner said he is “confident that Jaxport will remain competitive, our economy will continue to thrive, and our state and people will reap the benefits for years to come.”

Jaxport ranked first in the state last year in handling the most TEUs followed by the ports of Miami (1.19 million TEUs), Everglades (1.1 million), Palm Beach (262,230), Tampa Bay (178,600) and Manatee (177,100), according to the 2022-2023 Seaport Mission Plan.

Eric Green, Jaxport CEO, expressed his gratitude to DeSantis, Renner and the entire state Legislature for their “continued investment in our state’s ports and the jobs, economic impact and supply chain security we create for the people of Florida.”

The funds were appropriated during the most recent legislative session under the leadership of Renner and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R), with support from the Duval Legislative Delegation, whose mission is to advocate for the needs of Jacksonville. Delegation members included Reps. Jessica Baker (R), Dean Black (R), Kimberly Daniels (D), Wyman Duggan (R), Kiyan Michael (R) and Angie Nixon (R), as well as Sens. Tracie Davis (D) and Clay Yarborough (R).

Daniels, who filed the House appropriation request for Jaxport, remarked, “This check is very important for workers, for laborers, for jobs and also for supplies.”

The new cranes will allow more cargo to pass through Jaxport to better position the port to meet growing cargo volume needs of Florida businesses and consumers, while also keeping the port competitive as a global gateway along the southeastern coast.

Blount Island Marine Terminal

The new cranes will be put on Blount Island Marine Terminal. (Ryan Ketterman for Jaxport)

The cranes will be put on the Blount Island Marine Terminal, which has a 47-foot harbor depth, and numbers among the nation’s largest vehicle import/export centers. It has easy access to three interstates (I-295, I-95 and I-10).

Jaxport owns, maintains and markets three cargo terminals, two intermodal container transfer facilities and a passenger cruise terminal along the St. Johns River. More than 100 trucking and drayage firms operate in and around the port.

“Everything works as a team in Tallahassee, and we have to work as a team as a delegation to bring these things home for our community,” said Yarborough, who supported the appropriation request in the Senate. “It’s no secret Jaxport is one of the strongest — if not the strongest — economic engines that we have in our community with the jobs, the activity and the forward thinking that you do on a regular basis.”