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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Sep. 26, 200112:00 PM EST

Profile: Ron Baker

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Ron Baker is the new chief financial officer for Jaxport.

WHAT DOES HE DO?

“I am responsible for the human resources, risk management, accounting, treasury, budget and IT resources.”

WHY HOP ON BOARD JAXPORT?

“The seaport has enormous potential; it’s a diamond in the rough. Supplying 15,000 jobs and half billion dollars in payroll, there’s probably close to a $2 billion direct impact on the economy. The port has a good opportunity to make more of an impact and I am looking to be a change agent.”

YOUR THOUGHTS ON IMPROVING THE PORT?

“The passion needs to be behind selling it and getting people to use it. It’s a doable, possible thing.

Some of the geographics of the port are perfect for development. When you think about the transportation centers of the Southeast, the competition is Brunswick, Charleston and Savannah. The focus is about selling the service instead of building them.” Baker proposes deepening the harbor to level the playing field.

WHAT OBSTACLES HAVE YOU ENCOUNTERED?

“The reaction in Jacksonville is not to consider the value of the port. It’s a challenge articulating the message to people. We’re not one of the first things that come to mind in Jacksonville for commerce.”

WORKING FOR THE MAN

Before Jaxport, Baker was both the CFO and CIO at JEA. He started as the assistant division chief of human resources and moved up to division chief of JEA’s IT department before settling into the vice president’s chair. Prior to working for the City, Baker spent 10 years at FCCJ as the dean of instructional technology.

HOMETOWN

Jacksonville.

EDUCATION

Edward Waters College is where Baker received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a minor in computer science. He also holds a master’s degree in business administration from Jacksonville University.

WHY GO INTO THESE FIELDS?

“I’m pretty data-rational. I was always interested in technical subject matters, It comes easy for me. Over the years, finance and technology expanded into other functions.”

PROFESSIONAL AND CIVIC AFFILIATIONS

Baker is involved with the Pace Center for Girls, Pine Castle, the Clara White Mission and is on the board of United Way.

FAMILY

East Arlington is home to Baker, his wife Jean and their two adopted sons, Rhyxam (pronounced Ryan) and Randyl.

HOBBIES

Downhill skiing and golf top his list. A history buff, Baker enjoys touring American sites. When looking to dine somewhere special, Baker prefers to go to Maloney’s and Porchelli’s in New York City. When he’s home, Baker enjoys reading “The Prayer of Jabez,” watching the movie “Schindler’s List” or tuning into reruns of the “Wild, Wild West” television show. Nothing can beat a ride in the water taxi with his children, though.

WHAT EFFECT HAS THE TERRORIST ATTACKS HAD ON THE PORT?

“I think it’s probably too early to tell the financial impact. I expect several areas where there will be challenges: flow of commerce, extra added security and costs. There will be more random reviews and roving guards. The security in the past was probably adequate, but the world we live in is different now. These events have changed everyone’s perspective on the general rules of the game. It’s made us all feel vulnerable even if it is just in our heads. I think the security measures will be long-standing and not just a reaction to one instance. It will be a long time before we can relax.”

—by Monica Chamness

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