JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It appears Paul Anderson, the CEO of JAXPORT, is on his way to Tampa to head up port operations there, and many in Jacksonville say it's a big loss for the city.
Paul Anderson has been head of Jacksonville's port not quite two years. He's been offered the top job by the Tampa Port Authority, a unanimous decision after 150 applicants were reviewed.
Anderson was hired because of his expertise in pursuing state and federal dollars for the port and he has delivered, securing $30 million for construction of a railroad yard at Dames Point, to be used to transfer cargo containers between trains and ships. Revenues at the port are up and jobs were added during his tenure.
"I think there is no doubt that his contributions have been deep, and many and long lasting, and I do believe the momentum is with us," said Nancy Rubin, JAXPORT's Director of Communications.
"I was really disappointed," said Lewis Johnson after hearing the news.
Johnson has been a longshoreman at the port for more than 30 years and just become president of the International Longshoremen Association Local 1408. Johnson believes Anderson is an asset to the community and will be hard to replace. Anderson helped repair a bad relationship with the ILA.
"When Paul came in, he was interested in what could help us and how we could help the port, and we developed a pretty good relationship," said Johnson.
Anderson is negotiating a pay package with the Tampa port, whose former director made about $50,000 less than Anderson is making here, which is $320,000. Some are holding out hope he may decide to stay, but if not, port officials are confident the momentum will continue.
"The ability to create and generate economic impact and jobs for the region is not going away," said Rubin.
Board chairman Jim Citrano called Anderson a wonderful guy. Citrano said he has not talked to Anderson as of Wednesday afternoon, and Anderson has not resigned from JAXPORT at this time and Citrano considers him an employee at this point.
Citrano said team in place at JAXPORT will provide consistency and continuity when and if Anderson leaves.
"I am proud to say that the port's service to our customers, employees, and constituents will remain in the able hands of our Executive Vice President Roy Schleicher, Chief Operating Officer Chris Kauffman and Chief Financial Officer Mike Poole," said Citrano.
When necessary, Citrano says the full board will discuss the process for selection of a new director.