Ports Issue Areas and Research Topics

The Ports Project at the University of North Florida encourages research and analysis of Jaxport and the port economy by faculty and students. Below are some identified areas for critical inquiry that have been or will be researched as the project moves forward. 


Environmental Impact of the Port Economy

Like all forms of economic activity, the port economy will impact the natural environment in significant ways. The expansion of Jaxport is expected to impact water, land, and air quality. Water and marine species will be impacted by the increasing container ship traffic and the plan to dredge the St. Johns River to accommodate the larger post-Panamax ocean carriers. Land will be impacted with the construction of the container terminals and the building of physical infrastructure to move cargo from the port to the hinterlands. Air quality will be impacted by diesel fuel-burning ships, trucks, trains, and cargo-handling equipment. Research in this area is designed to raise awareness and inform policies that will prevent and mitigate the negative externalities of port expansion.

Environmental Impacts Bibliography

The Port Economy and the Logistics Industry

Because the port enterprise is a node in a larger global supply chain, its activities have a significant influence on the logistics industry. It is this industry that is responsible for getting the cargo where it needs to go. When claims are made regarding the impact of Jaxport expansion on jobs and business, it is the logistics sector that is seen as a prime beneficiary. Jacksonville has even adopted the title of “America’s Logistics Center”. An important area of research is examining the relationship between Jaxport and the logistics and supply chain management industry. What companies and firms are involved in port-related logistics? What management and organizational strategies do they utilize? What kinds of services do they provide? And what kinds of jobs do they create?



Port Drayage at Jaxport

One of the most significant challenges facing all container ports is developing an efficient means to move containers to and from the port. A core component of the intermodal transportation system is port drayage. This involves the pickup and delivery of containers by truck drivers. Numerous studies have been conducted of the labor market conditions of port truck drivers and the impact of these conditions on the efficiency of the logistics and supply chain system. These studies might consider compensation levels, contractual arrangements between drivers and shipping/logistics firms, differences between employee drivers versus the independent owner operators, delays and bottlenecks at the port, and the occupational safety and health of drivers. The proposed research will replicate studies conducted at other ports in the United States to gain an understanding of the nature and conditions of the port drayage infrastructure at Jaxport.

The Jacksonville Port as a Node in a Global Production Network 

With the globalization and geographic dispersion of economic production, ports and the port economy take on a greater level of significance as nodes in the global production and distribution system. What are variously described as Global Commodity Chains, Global Value Chains, and Global Production Networks are extended supply chains that include different countries, institutions, actors, firms, products, and modes of value production and transportation. One approach to studying Jaxport is to identify the role played by the port in these global chains and networks, and the countries, players, and commodities that make up these chains.

The Jaxport Economy and Urban Infrastructure/Urban Planning 

One of the most significant challenges facing Jaxport will be having in place the necessary infrastructure to move containers through the port and on to final destinations. This will require major physical improvements and expansions in highway and rail infrastructure. How will these be developed? Where will they be located? How ill they be financed? Such questions will also involve city and urban planners in developing acceptable land use and urban transportation systems.



Jaxport and the Geographic Distribution of Costs and Benefits 

In considering a cost-benefit analysis of the port economy, some studies have emphasized the importance of looking at the geographic distribution of costs and benefits. More specifically, there is an argument that due to containerization, the shipping of discretionary cargo, and the efficiency of the national intermodal transport system the costs (infrastructure, negative externalities, environmental pollution) of the port economy tend to be geographicallyconcentrated while the benefits (employment, economic impact, positive externalities) are more widely dispersedregionally and nationally. As it pertains to Jaxport, what costs will be borne by the local urban population in relationship to the positive economic impact on employment and growth?


Geographic Concentration-Dispersion Bibliography


The Jaxport Economy and Port Competition 

Containerization, the shipping of discretionary cargo, and the efficiency of the national intermodal transport system allows shippers and ocean carriers to select from a wide range of ports through which to bring freight and cargo. This intensifies the competition between ports for the container traffic. What are the factors 

etermining which ports will win and which will lose? What are some of the ways to determine the competitiveness of ports systems? Where does Jaxport fit in this equation? What are the costs and benefits of engaging in such competition?


Port Competition Bibliography 



Jaxport and the Labor Market Impact

Jaxport is expected to have a significant impact on the larger Jacksonville and regional economy. Various estimates have been presented with regard to the number of jobs that will be created as a result of the port expansion. An important area of research should consider the labor market impact of Jaxport in terms of not only the quantity of jobs but also the quality of employment, compensation levels, union representation, job security, benefits, and contributions to the larger quality of life in the region.  In terms of Jaxport specifically, how will the expansion of the port advance the objective of the City of Jacksonville’s Blueprint for Prosperity to raise per capita income in Duval County?