This is the sixth article in a GlobalAtlanta series that looks at the best practices of medium-sized cities’ chambers of commerce and partner organizations for attracting foreign investment and developing their international business communities. In past weeks we have focused on Dallas, Seattle, Charlotte, N.C. and Birmingham, Ala. This week, we consider Jacksonville, Fla.
Jacksonville touts itself as one of the leading intermodal centers on the East Coast and one of the best locations for reaching the Caribbean, Central America and the eastern coast of South America. Two deep-water ports provide access to global markets, helping to make the city an important international trade center.
The Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT), an international trade seaport in Northeast Florida, supports more than 45,000 jobs in the Jacksonville area. It’s cargo terminals and intermodal transportation facilities bring container, automobile, bulk, breakbulk and refrigerated cargoes from all over the world. International cruise ships also call on the port.
The seven-county Northeast Florida region where Jacksonville is located has some 1.2 million residents. In this region, multiple agencies work together to draw international investment and trade opportunities.
The Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce and its economic development arm, the Cornerstone Regional Development Partnership, lead the region’s international development and business recruitment efforts.
The chamber recently partnered with the U.S. Department of Commerce and Enterprise Florida (a statewide business promotion agency) to promote international trade initiatives. Additionally, the chamber works with the city of Jacksonville on international business recruitment efforts.
Organizations like the Jacksonville Sister Cities Association work with the chamber and serve as resources for counsel to local companies on international activities. The city of Jacksonville also boasts an International Resource Center of Jacksonville and a World Affairs Council of Jacksonville.
The chamber operates Jacksonville’s World Trade Center, which is one of six trade centers in Florida. The others are in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach and Tampa Bay. The center assists Florida companies to enter or expand into overseas markets through seminars, workshops, trade missions and trade shows. Like Atlanta’s World Trade Center, the WTC Jacksonville is a member of the World Trade Center Association, a global network of more than 300 world trade centers in 101 countries.
The Jacksonville chamber has an international division, which, along with the World Trade Center Jacksonville, educates local companies on finance, compliance with foreign trade restrictions, marketing overseas, shipping requirements and protecting freight. The division holds a roundtable of small businesses and exporters that share information on international trade. The WTC Jacksonville and the chamber organize trade missions together to introduce their members to international markets.
The Jacksonville International Business Coalition (JIBC) was formed to expand international business development opportunities in the area. Combining corporate and government leadership, the partnership develops long-term strategies for international business development.
A 501c (3) organization housed at the Chamber, the coalition is governed by a 15-person board led by the mayor of Jacksonville and includes the president of the Jacksonville City Council, the chairman of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission, the chairman of the Chamber and the executive directors of the ports authority, the Jacksonville Airport Authority, First Coast Manufacturers Association and Cornerstone Regional Development Partnership.
The Northeast Florida Regional Development Partnership is comprised of Baker, Clay, Duval, Flager, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties and has an international business recruitment focus (see www.expandinjax.com/international).
Like Atlanta, Jacksonville was chosen as a pilot city for the TradeRoots program, an initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to train local communities on the benefits of international trade.
The Jacksonville region’s various educational institutions, including Flagler College, Florida Coastal School of Law, Florida Community College at Jacksonville, Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida, offer international education programs.
To learn more about Jacksonville’s international business activities, contact the chamber of commerce’s international division at (904) 366-6690.