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The media has been very busy issuing warnings to American consumers of late. CNN told us to get ready for emptier shelves. News outlets suggested shopping early for Christmas to avoid shortages. Pictures of dozens of container ships off the West Coast that are not allowed to dock have gone viral.
What can a concerned consumer do? Head to Florida.
Last week, the Florida Ports Council put out a press release telling shippers that the state’s ports are open, staffed, and ready for business. “Florida is where your success comes in, and our seaports are the solution to ensure the cargo shipping logjam doesn’t become the grinch that stole Christmas,” said Florida Ports Council President and CEO Michael Rubin. He added, “With inflation growing, shipping and manufacturing industries can save time and money by calling on Florida ports. Why pay to moor off the coast of California, when Florida shipping lanes are open and serving as the gateway for getting goods to America’s market?”
More than 60 ships holding thousands of shipping containers were moored off the California coast when the council sent the letter. Rubin asserted, “Florida is open for business, and we are the solution to help resolve the global supply chain crisis. Instead of waiting off the coast of California, cargo vessels can offload and move their product to Florida and other discretionary markets in the same time it takes to find space in an increasingly congested California.”
The Sunshine State’s 15 public seaports are well-positioned to step up. According to the release, the state has been making investments to upgrade ports and recover from pandemic-related slowdowns:
Thanks to Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida is well-positioned to serve as part of the supply chain solution. Earlier this year, Governor DeSantis infused Florida’s 15 seaports with $250 million in stimulus relief to help offset the impacts experienced as a result of the pandemic. This stimulus is in addition to other port infrastructure and connectivity investments made in Florida to increase our capacity and ability to move cargo and passengers around the world – Florida continues to invest in the infrastructure to become the pier to the world.
Hopefully, shippers will reward Florida’s proactive attitude so that all of the sneakers, toilet paper, toys, and Christmas trees can come ashore sooner than anticipated. According to the Washington Post, the port crisis is also causing rail yards to back up and logjams for truckers. California passed AB 5, which eliminated owner-operators. Another law put restrictions on the age of trucks that could legally operate in the state. These restrictions further impede getting products out of the ports and in and out of the rail yards. Florida doesn’t have any of these restrictive rules.
The Florida Ports Council’s response shames the one from the federal government. For example, Representative Michelle Steel (R-CA) introduced legislation to ban ships from idling or anchoring within 24 nautical miles of the Southern California coast for the next 180 days. Steel’s Stopping Hazardous Incidents in the Pacific Act of 2021 (SHIP Act) is based on speculation that an anchor or chain from a ship off the coast may have caused a pipeline spill in the area. Florida, meanwhile, is offering the cargo ships a place to go.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is at the helm of the crisis for the Biden administration. The former small-town mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has no evident experience handling a supply chain crisis that spans the globe. He got the job because he dropped out of the primary, endorsed President Biden, and likes trains a lot.
What is Buttigieg’s response? He told MSNBC that problems may continue for months and possibly years. The McKinsey veteran has set up a task force as any good consultant would. Before his current job, his primary infrastructure experience was revitalizing sidewalks in South Bend with decorative brick and getting Domino’s Pizza to cough up funds to fix the potholes in his city. When the pizza maker asked for nominations, the most requests in the state of Indiana came from South Bend.
Miami, Florida, has opened its arms to tech companies fleeing California. Residents of the Golden State flocked to Florida in 2020 in numbers not seen previously. Maybe cargo ships will be next. Governor Ron DeSantis made some real infrastructure investments to upgrade Florida’s ports. Let’s see if they pay off and save Christmas for everyone.