The port advertised earlier this year for a consultant to develop a strategic master plan to guide its growth for the next five, 10 and 20 years and received nine responses.
An evaluation committee consisting of Port Chief Operating Officer Chris Kauffmann, Treasurer Aaron Kendrick and Director of Properties and Environmental Compliance David Stubbs ranked the top three firms: Martin Associates of Lancaster, Pa., RS&H of Jacksonville and AECOM of Los Angeles.
Port management recommended that the port’s awards committee and board of directors approve Martin Associates for the preparation of a strategic master plan, not to exceed $601,609. The project is funded by a state grant of $600,000.
The awards committee approved the recommendation Monday and the board will discuss the contract at its Sept. 24 meeting.
The plan also will provide the port with direction on how to handle infrastructure improvements, revenue growth, economic development, as well as challenges facing the maritime industry.
Port CEO Paul Anderson has pushed for the development of the plan to assist the port in attracting investors from both the public and private sectors to assist in growth.
“Money will follow a really strong business plan,” said Anderson.
“We need to show the universe of people who we might go to for support of expanding at JaxPort that we have a strong business case for projects we are looking to build and invest in for the long-term viablility,” said Anderson.
Discussing the need for such a plan at previous board meetings, Anderson described how a similar plan assisted the Port of Miami in obtaining funding for its more than $1 billion tunnel project.
“I’ve seen it in action at other ports. I did mention Miami. I don’t think they would have ever been able to build and get the funding for a billion dollar-plus tunnel had they not, No. 1, engaged the community in a strategic master plan that identified that as a priority,” said Anderson.
“By having a robust comprehensive plan that will identify projects that are priorities for us and the community, we can make the case on what the return on investment is if dollars are allocated for improvement projects at JaxPort,” he said.
One of those improvement projects is currently being studied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — deepening the Jacksonville shipping channel from its current depth of 40 feet down to 50 feet.
The Corps is currently conducting a feasibility study to examine the benefits and costs of deepening the channel. The project was also included in President Obama’s “We Can’t Wait” initiative that is expediting five infrastructure projects across the country.
“I look at the port as an economic development business for greater Jacksonville and Northeast Florida and we are going to have to make a comprehensive case in why we should invest, potentially, over a billion dollars in this port over the next decade,” said Anderson.
Also at the Sept. 24 meeting, the board will review security contracts totaling about $10.5 million.
The awards committee approved staff recommendations to select U.S. Security Associates, based in Roswell, Ga. with two offices in Jacksonville, for a three-year contract totaling $9.6 million.
The contractor would provide security services for Blount Island, Talleyrand and TraPac Marine Terminals and for the port security operations center and access control center.
MOL, of which TraPac is a subsidiary, will pay nearly $1 million for security services at the terminal it leases from the port.
U.S. Security Associates is one of three applicants for the contract, with the others being G4 Secure Solutions Inc. and Allied Barton Security.
A second security contract provides service for the port central office building and port cruise terminal. The contract is for three years and totals about $900,000.
Two responses were submitted with the committee approving River City Security Services, based in Jacksonville. Deluxe Security Agency, of Jacksonville, was deemed non-conforming.
Developing a vision for the growth of Jacksonville’s ports has been a priority for the Jacksonville Port Authority, which recently took another step to formalize that vision.