Economic Development in the World's Fourth Largest Economy
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 Fall 2014


Fall 2014 Edition

The State of the Rural South's Economy

Selling Your Rural Community's Assets

Small Town's with Unique Assets

Kentucky Supplement

Kentucky: The Spirit of the South

New Build-Ready Program Making More Sites Ready-To-Go

A Perfect Partnership

Next Gen KIH Program Taking Broadband to Every Corner of the State

2015 Aerospace Bonus Edition

Digital Version

Aerospace Industry Takes Off in the American South

Launching Pad for Growth and Innovation

In “Plane” View

“The Best Airplane Built in America”

Aerospace Industry State Overviews

Petrochemicals and the Southern Manufacturing Renaissance

Non-Petrochemicals and the Southern Manufacturing Renaissance

Ten Reasons Why Manufacturing is Booming in The South

Rick Perry

2014 Annual Directory

2014 SB&D 100 Edition

SB&D 100 Feature

Big Fish Keep Alabama's Economy Humming

Southern Economic Development Roundtable

The Best Greenfield Data Center Sites in the South

The Most Southern Place on Earth

Ensuring a resilient Delta Region by training a skilled workforce

Driving toward success in Alabama's Black Belt

Arkansas's Big River Steel has found its home in the heart of America's Delta Region

Building a healthy economy and a healthy workforce in Illinois

Innovation and collaboration are building a Work Ready Kentucky

Louisiana's industry off to a fast start

Perfected in Mississippi

Certifying Southeast Missouri and beyond

Select Tennessee sites offer competitive edge

Reshoring and its potential effect on the Mississippi River Delta region


 Ten People Who Made a Difference in the South

Top 10 Stories in the American South

Ten Exceptional Southern markets to Locate your Reshored Traditional

If you are looking to relocate your HQ to the South, here are 10 Outstanding
Cities for your Operation that might not show up on your Radar

Ten Low Cost Manufacturing Locations to Reshore your Plant near Major
Southern airports

If these Southern Market Economies were Stocks, they would be the Ten Best
to Invest in over the next Decade

Ten Highly Creative Places to Live in the South where you can Reshore your
Manufacturing Operation

Ten more Shining Examples of Economic Development that's working in the

Five Outstanding Supplier Sites for Airbus and Five for Boeing

Ten Supplier Locations in the Southern Aerospace Corridor that can serve
both Airbus and Boeing

20th Anniversary Edition


Florida's inland port strategy could result in thousands of new jobs

By Lee Burlett

Port Citrus was recently named Florida's 15th port in the last Legislative session, making it eligible for future state funding. The port is located at the former Cross Florida Barge Canal, north of Crystal River on the Levy/Citrus county border.Florida's 15 deepwater seaports support more than half a million direct and indirect jobs and collectively they have an economic impact of $66 billion in the state. With the re-alignment of global trade routes as a result of an expanded Panama Canal, Florida's ports are positioning themselves to take advantage of the tremendous opportunity. The opening of the Panama Canal's larger locks in 2014 will offer new global opportunities for international trade growth through Florida's well-placed ports.

In 2010, U.S. ports typically showed a 60 percent import to 40 percent export ratio. Yet, in Florida, efforts to decrease trade deficits with other countries are starting to build momentum. Florida currently has one of the nation's best export-over-import surpluses. In 2010, Florida's exports represented 58 percent of the total import/export cargo. The state exported $73 billion in goods in 2010 compared to $53.2 billion in imports. That export-over-import surplus is the fourth-best in the nation.

According to, "Florida faces a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform our economy by becoming a global leader for trade, logistics and export-oriented manufacturing activities." Sounds pretty good, but to get there the state of Florida must make strategic capital investments to deepen harbors, build more berth, crane and terminal infrastructure and add more container handling capacity. The last part of that sentence – more handling capacity – is the challenge considering Florida’s landlocked port system.

To alleviate that, part of that positioning strategy is to build system wide, seamless intermodal facilities throughout the state to move goods more efficiently and cost effectively. This includes several inland ports that can act as centralized freight hubs. The inland ports can expand existing seaport capacity, increase reliability in the freight system and improve congestion management activities, all in an effort to create new market opportunities. And for Small Town Florida, the prospects are excellent because each of the inland ports will be located in rural markets with the potential for thousands of new jobs being created.

An inland port is essentially a distribution site to provide support for intermodal transfers between ship, rail and truck operations. The inland ports being discussed and developed in Florida are located in rural settings where land costs and land uses are less restrictive. The inland ports in Florida are being centrally located to key markets such as Jacksonville, Palm Beach and Miami, port locations in Florida that are over or near capacity.

One such inland port being considered for development would serve Port Citrus on Florida's western Gulf Coast. Rural counties like Citrus, Marion and Levy counties are looking to take advantage of the new logistics opportunities that will result if an inland port is built in Ocala, Fla.

In October, the city of Ocala began preliminary discussions with Citrus County officials to explore an inland port to be developed on Interstate 75. The city and county want the development to be a regional effort with rural Marion and Levy counties working in conjunction with Ocala and Citrus. 

Port Citrus was recently named Florida's 15th port in the last Legislative session, making it eligible for future state funding. The port is located at the former Cross Florida Barge Canal, north of Crystal River on the Levy/Citrus county border. The port is not a deep water facility, but could be used to ship raw materials by barge.

The Cross Florida Barge Canal was a federal project that was started in 1942 in an effort to link the Gulf of Mexico with the St. Johns River, giving the state an inland waterway linking the Gulf with the Atlantic. The project was abandoned in 1971 after about a third of the canal was completed.

Port Citrus is on the M-10 Maritime Highway that begins in Brownsville, Tex. and ends at Port Manatee in South Tampa Bay. If developed, an inland port in Ocala could ship goods to and from the new seaport in a cost efficient manner. An ocean-going barge can ship a load equal to 600 tractor trailer loads.

In an article published by the Ocala Star-Banner in December, Citrus County Commissioner Joe Meek said, "We are very early on in the process of our port initiative. This will not happen overnight. We are laying the groundwork to have a, hopefully, positive economic future."

 Southern Auto Corridor

Southern Auto

Steering the Automotive Industry to the World's Fourth-Largest Economy


Opportunities in the South's Rural and Urban Small Towns

Southern Business & Development Southern Auto Corridor Small Town South Randle Report