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Hanjin's decision disappoints port district business owners

6:46 PM, Mar 22, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Parked in the shadows of a steady stream of tractor trailers in the port district are two small business owners.

"It is a very good location," said Gloria Cardona, "but sometimes it is very slow.

Cardona has operated in the same location for five years, serving meals to port workers from 9-to-5. She said new business in the port district is good business for her.

"Very good for a lot of people," she said, "a lot of opportunities and for us too."

Her view of Hanjin has been one of hope, but now she's not sure.

"Why did they change their minds?" she asked.

The company's decision to set aside a $300 million terminal, one that would have added hundreds of jobs, also caught Winston Davis by surprise.

"It is the first time I've heard they're not coming," said Davis.

Davis, a peanut vendor, has operated in the port district location for 21 years and thought the terminal and its workers would have been a good mix.

"What happens now to the jobs they said would be out here?" he asked. 

Jacksonville Port Authority spokesperson Nancy Rubin said in a written statement that while the terminal is not being built, Hanjin has formed an alliance with Trapac and will have weekly service.

"Jacksonville will get the cargo anyway without the cost of building a terminal," said Rubin. "The cargo will be on Hanjin ships."

Small business owner Cardona hopes to see it at her cash register.

"We something that is a lot of business for everybody," said Cardona, "We need a lot of people right here, you know."

Rubin said the shelving of the terminal will allow the Port Authority to focus funds in deepening the harbor and other critical projects. She  said the decision to scrap the terminal was a mutual decision and not unexpected due to economic realities.

From Mayor Alvin Brown's office, Tony Hill, director of federal policy also saw the move in a positive light.

"JAXPORT's momentum will continue as we aggressively pursue more opportunities to create jobs and investment in Jacksonville," wrote Hill.

"Come May, we will have a carrier with service between the East Coast and Asia calling on JAXPORT," added Hill, "This is a major achievement considering five years ago we had only one."

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