Jacksonville: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

With its diverse economic base, young, energetic population, and high quality of life, Jacksonville experienced substantial growth during the latter decades of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first.

The city is a transportation hub, with a 38-foot deepwater port that ranks with New York as the top two vehicle-handling ports in the nation. It is served by four airports, three seaports, a highway system that links the city to three major interstates, and a rail system served by three railroads—CSX, Norfolk Southern, and Florida East Coast.

The automotive parts and accessories industry is attracted by this logistics network, as well as the fact that less than two percent of the city's manufacturing industry is unionized. Jacksonville was selected as the site of Southeast Toyota, the largest distributor in the United States, and of a distribution center for General Motors Corp. that serves Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida.

Pulp and paper mills play substantial roles in the local economy, and Georgia Pacific Corp. and Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. are two of the area's largest manufacturers. Construction equipment and building materials is another key segment of the Jacksonville economy, with Ring Power Corp., U.S. Gypsum, and Florida Rock Industries Inc. among the top employers in the region. Other large manufacturers are Northrop Grumman Corp. (aircraft), Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc. (beer), Vistakon (optical products), Swisher International Inc. (cigars and smokeless tobacco), Medtronic Xomed (surgical products), and Dura Automotive Systems Inc. (automotive components).

Three important naval air stations within the city limits and Kings Bay Submarine Base nearby give Jacksonville one of the largest military presences in the country, topped only by Norfolk, Virginia, and San Diego, California. The total economic impact of the bases in the community is about $6.1 billion annually.

Aviation is a natural fit to Jacksonville. Of the 6,000 naval personnel that exit the military every year in Jacksonville, over 80 percent remain in northeast Florida, supplying the area with a rich resource of aviation skills and related technical experience. Additionally, more than 15,000 students enroll in aviation-related programs in the Jacksonville area. One such program is Florida Community College of Jacksonville's Aviation Center of Excellence, located at the Cecil Commerce Center, which is also home to one of four airports in Jacksonville. The city was experiencing a boom in the aviation industry in the early 2000s. Flightstar Aircraft Services Inc. began operations in Jacksonville in 2000, Kaman Aerospace Corp. launched business there three years later, and Embraer broke ground in 2004 on a facility to accommodate work on a $879 million Army contract to assemble surveillance aircraft.

Import-export operations are a vital segment of Florida's economy, and Jacksonville is a major center for that activity. World Trade Center Jacksonville, one of six trade centers in the state, assists Florida companies to enter or expand into overseas markets. Along with an international trade library housing 2,500 volumes and 700 periodicals, it provides basic and intensive research, offers monthly seminars on various trade topics, and permits use of its boardroom and several meeting rooms at no charge. Jacksonville is also a pilot city for TradeRoots, an initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Chamber Foundation, that studies the benefits that trade brings to local communities. The Jacksonville Port Authority manages the Free Trade Zone, an area in which goods arriving from a foreign country are temporarily exempt from import duties unless and until they are permanently delivered to the U.S. The city is home to Foreign Trade Zone #64 and there are designated customs facilities at the Jacksonville International Airport. The city's top exports are building materials, medical/health and beauty products, transportation equipment, food and restaurant equipment, construction equipment, packaging, generators, and chemicals.

Jacksonville, once abandoned by the motion picture and television industry, is experiencing a renaissance. The Jacksonville Film and Television Office was formed to attract film and video production to the area and helps streamline the production process. As a result, numerous motion pictures, television movies, commercials, and videos were produced in Jacksonville in recent years. Each movie or television series filmed there can add millions of dollars to the local economy, through housing, hiring of a local labor crew, catering, special heavy equipment rental, and expenses. The city was the filming location for the 2004 remake of the film The Manchurian Candidate. The Jacksonville Economic Development Commission reports that the industry had an economic impact of more than $99 million in fiscal year 2002/2003.

Items and goods produced: aircraft, machinery, paper and paper products, building products, beer, soft drinks, tobacco, and optical and surgical products

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

Local programs

Cornerstone is the economic development initiative of the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce. It is led by a group of companies and individuals who provide the leadership and resources to foster business expansion and relocation in Jacksonville. Investment dollars are channeled into business recruitment, existing business services, education and workforce preparation, and special economic initiatives.

Several incentive programs are managed at the local level. Portions of downtown Jacksonville are part of either the Empowerment Zone or the Enterprise Zone, each of which offers tax or wage credits to businesses based on the number of new jobs created. The Northwest Jacksonville Area Fund makes available grants or loans for infrastructure improvements, facade renovation, and purchase of land or buildings. The Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund is extended to companies that are on the list of industries identified by the city as desirable additions to the local economy. Similarly, Targeted Economic Development Area Special Funds are designed to induce the location of high economic value projects to critical areas of Jacksonville. Lastly, Industrial Development Revenue Bonds afford manufacturing companies access to low-interest, tax-exempt loans.

The Chamber of Commerce maintains close relationships with the City of Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission, the Jacksonville Port Authority, and the 4,000 local businesses that are Chamber members and Cornerstone investors. The businesses that have located or expanded in Jacksonville cite the many city and state incentives that are available, the support of city and business leaders, and the fact that the consolidated city-county government allows for faster permitting and less bureaucratic red tape overall.

State programs

Enterprise Florida is a partnership between Florida's government and business leaders and is the principal economic development organization for the state of Florida. Enterprise Florida's mission is to increase economic opportunities for all Floridians by supporting the creation of quality jobs, a well-trained workforce, and globally competitive businesses. It pursues this mission in cooperation with its statewide network of economic development partners.

Among the incentive programs managed at the state level is the Economic Development Transportation Fund, which provides up to $2 million to fund the cost of transportation projects such as access roads and road widening required for the establishment, expansion, or retention of businesses in Florida. The Brownfield Bonus Program, which is available to most of downtown Jacksonville, extends a bonus for each new job created. The state also offers various sales and use tax exemptions for machinery and equipment purchase, electric energy, research and development, and other aspects of doing business in the area.

Job training programs

The Workforce Development Board (WDB), commonly known as Jobs & Education Partnership, is a part of Enterprise Florida. WDB provides policy, planning, and oversight for job training programs funded under the federal Workforce Investment Act, along with vocational training, adult education, employment placement, and other workforce programs administered by a variety of state and local agencies. Regional Workforce Development Boards operate under charters approved by the Workforce Development Board. The 24 regional boards have primary responsibility for direct services through a state-wide network of One-Stop Career systems.

State and local workforce development efforts are concentrated on three broad initiatives. First Jobs/First Wages focuses on preparing workers for entry-level employment including the School-to-Work and WAGES programs. High Skill/High Wages targets the higher skills needs of employers and trains workers for advancement through such programs as Performance Based Incentive Funding, Occupational Forecasting Conference/Targeted Occupations, Quick Response Training, and Incumbent Worker Training. One-Stop Career Centers are the central elements of the One-Stop system that provide integrated services to employers, workers, and job-seekers.

Development Projects

The Better Jacksonville Plan was approved by voters in 2000. This plan increased the sales tax by a half-cent to raise $2.25 billion over 30 years to fund road improvements, environmental clean-up and conservation, the Northwest Jacksonville Economic Development Fund, and the construction of new public facilities downtown. It also enabled the establishment of Cecil Commerce Center, a mixed-use industrial/business park located about 20 minutes from downtown Jacksonville. Approximately 4,800 acres are available for light industrial expansion, with another 800 set aside for heavy industrial use. Also zoned for commercial, recreational, and aviation use, Cecil Commerce Center provides the setting to attract more distribution, manufacturing, and aviation economic activities to the city.

Also established in 2000 was Downtown Vision, Inc. (DVI), a not-for-profit organization designed to bolster the downtown community and promote it as an ideal venue for business and tourism. Its initiatives include programs to make the downtown area clean and safe, to market the area through television programs, radio spots, and publications, to tackle transportation and parking issues, and retain and attract business. In 2003 DVI launched a Downtown Image campaign that included a new logo and tagline: Downtown Jacksonville—Not Your Ordinary Neighborhood.

Cornerstone, the city's economic development initiative, reported that 60,000 new jobs were created by companies expanding or relocating to Jacksonville between 1999 and 2004. CSX Corp. and Fidelity National Financial, Inc. relocated their corporate headquarters to the city in 2003, joining Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. in the ranks of Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Jacksonville. Cingular Wireless also added 400 new jobs to the area that year. Major expansions and relocations the following year include Washington Mutual, which created 725 new jobs, and State Farm, Option One, and Wal-Mart Distribution, each of which added 300 new jobs. It's no wonder that Expansion Management magazine rated Jacksonville in the top 10 "Hottest Cities in America" for each of the six years the list has been published, of which Jacksonville was ranked number one three times.

Economic Development Information: Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce, 3 Independent Dr., Jacksonville, FL 32202; telephone (904)366-6680; fax (904)353-6343. Enterprise Florida, 390 N. Orange Ave., Ste. 1300, Orlando, FL 32801; telephone (407)316-4600; fax (407)316-4599. Downtown Vision, Inc., 214 N. Hogan St., Ste. 120, Jacksonville, FL 32202; telephone (904)634-0303; fax (904)634-8988.

Commercial Shipping

The hub of seven major highways—I-10, I-95, I-295, and U.S. Highways 1, 17, 90, and 301—Jacksonville has a straight shipping line to the Midwest, West, and Northeast. It is served by more than 100 trucking lines, three major railroads, and Jacksonville International Airport. As the largest deepwater port in the South Atlantic, Jacksonville is the leading U.S. port for automobile imports.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Jacksonville is an attractive site for expanding companies, in part because of its abundance of workers due to in-migration, natural growth, a strong military presence, and the area's educational institutions. The metropolitan area population, which topped 1.1 million in 2000, is significantly younger than all major Florida cities, with a median age of under 34 years old.

Relocating businesses are drawn to the area's quality of life, its sunshine, and its sports, recreational, and cultural opportunities, as well as the region's emphasis on well-planned growth. Between 1999 and 2004, approximately 60,000 new jobs were created by companies expanding or relocating to Jacksonville. In its September 2003 issue, Business 2.0 magazine reported the 10-year projected job growth rate for the city to be 24.8 percent.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Jacksonville metropolitan area labor force, 2003 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 559,700

Number of workers employed in . . .

manufacturing: 33,000

trade, transportation and utilities: 124,200

information: 12,500

financial activities: 57,300

professional and business services: 84,600

educational and health services: 64,100

leisure and hospitality: 52,100

other services: 25,600

government: 69,700

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $14.09 (2003 statewide average)

Unemployment rate: 4.2% (December 2004)

Jacksonville: Economy

Largest employers (Duval County) Number of employees
Naval Air Station 19,537
Naval Station Mayport 15,293
Duval County Public Schools 15,000
City of Jacksonville 8,019
Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. 7,238
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Inc. 7,000
Publix Distribution Center 6,615
Baptist Health System 5,600
CSX Corp. 4,400
Citibank 4,000
Bank of America Corp. 4,000

Cost of Living

Jacksonville ranks lowest among the five major metropolitan statistical areas in Florida and lower than many comparable cities nationwide in terms of cost of living. Housing costs are among the least expensive in Florida among cities with populations over 500,000.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Jacksonville area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $225,636

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 92.2 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: None for personal income; 5.5 percent of state's portion of federal taxable income for corporations

State sales tax rate: 6.0%

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 1.0%

Property tax rate: $19.3913 per $1,000 (2004)

Economic Information: Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce, 3 Independent Dr., Jacksonville, FL 32202; telephone (904)366-6680