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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Gov. Rick Scott has lofty goals for Florida's ports

As he stiff-armed the Obama administration's offer of $2.4 billion for high-speed rail, Gov. Rick Scott embraced a far less sexy alternative: lumbering cargo ships.

He steered $77 million to Miami for a deeper shipping channel. He pledged to support improvements to make Jacksonville's port a global player. And Scott repeated again and again a goal that has some maritime experts scratching their heads, a goal to make Florida ...

''The shipping capital of the East Coast, if not the nation."

Florida boasts 14 ports from Key West to Pensacola. But as far as cargo moved in steel containers — the way most consumer goods move over water today — their combined traffic last year didn't reach the volume at Savannah, Ga. And Savannah is only No. 4 nationally, handling a little more than half the volume of New York, which is No. 1 on the East Coast.

Mark Vitner, a Wells Fargo senior economist who tracks Florida business, misheard a reporter's question about Scott's grand goal. "Sports capital of the East Coast?" he asked.

No, ports capital.

"They'd have a better chance," he quipped, "of becoming the sports capital."

Yet there is more than big talk behind Scott's idea.

Read more here.

[Last modified: Monday, June 6, 2011 11:39am]


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