JAXPORT recently received new business from Nestlé USA with help from the governor.

Florida Ports Heeding the Call

The state has spent $850 million in seaport infrastructure improvements in the past four years. That fact coupled with Southern California’s months-long labor dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents shipping companies, seems to have benefited Florida ports. The labor crisis ended officially in February, but the ripple effect continues from the estimated $2 billion a day loss in trade.

Primarily involving the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, West Coast commerce was crippled by the dispute.

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New figures seem to confirm the increased market share. PortMiami’s container volume had its busiest month on record since December 2004. In a report released in late May, the port’s container volumes increased by 17.5 percent year over year to 93,400 20-foot equivalent units in April. And it experienced an 11.8 percent year-to-date increase for the first seven months of the 2015 fiscal year according to officials.

The Florida Ports Council released updated figures for the state’s seaports in late May. Florida’s waterborne international trade increased to $86.8 billion in 2014, a $900 million increase.

“What is exciting about this data is that is shows noteworthy gains in cargo and cruise moving through Florida’s ports, a trend data suggests will continue in 2015 and future years. With many of the investments in infrastructure being completed, global companies are seeing our state as a very competitive option to help make their business succeed,” said Doug Wheeler, president and CEO of the Florida Ports Council.

Gov. Rick Scott led a trade delegation to California in April to pitch Florida’s ports to shipping companies there in the wake of the labor dispute. He did chalk up a win during his visit, meeting with executives from NestlÉ USA. The company is shifting a majority of its U.S. to Puerto Rico shipments to JAXPORT from the Port of New York and New Jersey. While technically not a West Coast shipment, new port business is new port business.


eMerge Americas, the international technology conference held in early May in Miami, drew more than 10,000 attendees from 50 countries and millions around the world participated through NBCUniversal’s live broadcasts and online streaming. More than 500 companies participated, including 125 startups from throughout the Americas and the world and 200 expert speakers were featured. The event with its 7,500 hotel room nights generated millions in economic impact for Greater Miami. “eMerge Americas 2015 exceeded our most optimistic expectations in its second year and has once again set a high standard for years to come,” said Manual D. Medina, founder and chairman of eMerge Americas.

Michael T. Rodriguez was recently named CEO of eMerge Americas, a former vice president and general manager of WLTV and WAMI, Univision’s flagship stations in South Florida. Next year’s dates were also announced and the event will be held in Miami, April 18 and 19, 2016.


The fate of the Export-Import Bank will be known in June as Speaker John Boehner has said he will bring Ex-Im Bank reauthorization to the floor in the House if it passes the Senate. Last year the bank provided $20.5 billion in financing to support sales of U.S. products overseas. The bank’s charter is set to expire June 30. Florida is the second-largest recipient of money from the Ex-Im Bank.


A number of airlines have begun new routes in Florida. Emirates airline will begin daily nonstop service from Orlando to Dubai starting in September. Each plane will have eight first-class suites, 42 business class lie-flat beds and 216 economy class seats.

Miami International Airport is the nation’s second-busiest airport for international passengers with more than 20 million travelers for each of the past two years. MIA is adding a total of eight new international service options to its growing route network in 2015, including five new international destinations. Martin Associates took an in-depth look at five of the new flights to determine their value to the local community. Assuming they sustain operations at MIA for one full year, the five new international flights are projected to impact Miami-Dade’s economy as follows:

  • 3,435 jobs
  • $457 million in economic impact, which includes:
  • $143 million in total income
  • $45 million in local purchases; and
  • $1.7 million in state and local tax contributions

New international flights and service options included in the Martin Associates’ study are: Thomas Cook Airlines’ twice-weekly service to Manchester, England; American Airlines’ daily Frankfurt service; Aruba Airlines’ five weekly flights to Aruba; Austrian Airlines’ five weekly flights to Vienna; and Turkish Airlines’ daily service to Istanbul.


The University of Central Florida’s Business Incubation Program became the first incubator in Florida to be designated a Soft Landings International Incubator by the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA). The NBIA, with more than 2,200 members in 60 nations, identifies incubators that have specialized programs and/or facilities that help provide a “soft landing” for foreign companies looking to enter new markets.

“Our organization’s mission is to help diversify Central Florida’s economy by facilitating smarter, faster growth among early-stage businesses,” said Thomas O’Neal, Ph.D., founder of the UCF Business Incubation Program. “While we have traditionally been fulfilling that goal by offering entrepreneurial assistance to local ventures, we recognize that more jobs and economic growth can be generated here by offering similar services that help companies from around the world establish business in Central Florida.”


Bringing the world to Orlando. The Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce sent a travel delegation to the 9th World Chambers Congress in Torino, Italy, June 10-12. The goal: hosting the 2019 World Chambers Congress in 2019 in Orlando. Formed in 1999, the WCC has never been held in the U.S.

Italian cityscape
An Orlando delegation attended the 9th World Chambers Congress in Torino, Italy.

The Congress is the only international forum for chamber leaders to share best-practice experiences, exchange insights, develop networks, address business issues affecting their communities and learn about new areas of innovation from chambers around the world.

This event assembles a global community of more than 12,000 chambers of commerce, their leading business members and influential world leaders. It provides a unique opportunity for interaction between delegates from more than 100 countries.

The Orlando delegation included Mayor Buddy Dyer; James Bacchus, former World Trade Organization director and shareholder, Greenberg Traurig and chair of the Orlando WCC Host Committee; Jacob V. Stuart, president, Central Florida Partnership; and José A. Fajardo, executive vice president, Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Editor’s note: The CEOs of Delta, American, and United Airlines are lobbying the White House to freeze new routes to the U.S. by Emirates, Qatar, and Etihad Airlines for unfair subsidies by their respective governments.