Ocala Possibly Becoming an Inland Port
OCALA- Another North Central Florida city is making plans to build an "inland port."
Two years ago Lake City announced plans to create a distribution point for goods shipped through the port of Jacksonville.
Now leaders in Ocala have similar hopes for an inland port in ocala within the next three to five years.
City officals are looking to establish a partnership with Jacksonville and another Florida seaport.
The extension of the Panama Canal should double the amount of goods that pass through it each year and will bring in larger ships.
The $5 billion project leaves Florida seaports finding a way to manage the high volume traffic.
"The ports are a fixed size. Most can not expand. With this increase trade they will be required to find increase capacity to be able to manage the increase in containerized traffic," said Astrida Trupovnieks.
Trupovnieks is the Senior Management Redevelopment with the city of Ocala.
She explained that containers will be moved to an inland locations away from congested areas and will then be redistributed.
City officals believe Ocala is the perfect place for an inland port.
"Ocala is really one of the few cities in Florida that has ample, affordable real estate located off the interstate with direct rail access to accommodate the ports. So it's really a very strategic alliance that we are forming with both ports," said Trupovnieks.
The city of Ocala has an agreement with the port of Jacksonville which means both parties will communicate, understand and plan the possible future of Ocala's inland port.
The agreement will come to the city council on Nov. 6.
Trupovnieks said there is still many tasks that need to be done before any decisions are made.
"Ocala has to perform a feasibility analysis that will tell decision makers how we can best serve the logistics chain," said Trupovnieks.
The study will cost anywhere from $150,000 to $300,000.
"The city council has set aside match funds to supplement an grant requests that we make of the state of Florida to helps us in this endeavor," said Trupovnieks.
A large part of Ocala becoming an inland port is the jobs it will bring.
"We believe that our work force has the demographics necessary to fill those jobs at an inland port," said Trupovnieks.
About a month ago, the city council approved it's first agreement with the largest port in Florida; the port of Tampa.
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