JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Tuesday was another busy day at Jaxport and it's only expected to get busier when a couple of major expansion projects are complete. But Jacksonville isn't waiting, realizing now that logistics jobs are hot.
Tuesday, dock workers feverishly unloaded the largest shipment of aluminum to move through Jaxport in a decade.
It's proof, spokeswoman Nancy Rubin says, business there is booming.
"The dock workers, the ILA members, these are the life's blood of our business here," she said.
Anticipating growth at the port, the International Longshoreman's Association and the University of North Florida want to make sure there's an educated work force available to fill upcoming job openings.
The local ILA will be handing out scholarships this week. It's a scholarship that helped Sheran Fowler build a career.
She said, "It has played a major role in my life because not only did I graduate from college, but I later went on to become part owner of an accounting firm."
UNF is working to distribute a half-million-dollar state grant that will help transportation and logistics companies train current and new employees.
UNF's Dean of Continuing Education, Bob Wood, said, "We're America's Logistics Center, and we are really right in the middle of most logistics activity in a major region."
Jaxport is the lead company in that training program.
Rubin said, "This educated, skilled, knowledgeable, workforce is so important to our businesses."
When the Mile Point and harbor deepening projects are complete, Rubin says jobs will follow.
Right now, more than 65,000 jobs are tied to Jaxport. Cargo activity alone contributes more than $19 billion a year to the area's economy.
The Mile Point project will repair a navigational hazard leading into the port. The project is paid for, and just awaiting federal approval.
The Army Corps of Engineers is still working on an economic and environmental study that will determine just how deep the harbor will be dredged.
Jaxport says both those projects are necessary for Jacksonville to be competitive in a global market.