Northeast Florida is taking the lead in the natural gas industry to attract and keep business in the area. Viewed as a viable player in this industry, the region is building upon its status as an importer and exporter of liquefied and compressed natural gas by cultivating its available, skilled workforce to support this growing industry.
Natural gas is becoming one of the fastest-growing fuel sectors in the world. LNG exports lead to economic growth and job expansions, especially in states with strong shipping and cargo footprints like Florida.
Northeast Florida is a perfect facilitation area for LNG and compressed natural gas from an export perspective and as a regional hub because the region is a logistics and transportation center.
Significant developments are occurring in the area that will offer employment opportunities. Clean Energy Fuels plans to build a terminal to supply LNG to cargo ships in Jacksonville – the first of its type in the nation and the first LNG facility on the Eastern Seaboard to supply LNG for the maritime, trucking and rail industries.
Sea Star Line and Crowley, with operations out of JAXPORT, ordered liquefied natural gas-powered cargo ships. Locally headquartered Crowley Maritime and its Carib Energy division will supply containerized natural gas to two of Coca-Cola’s manufacturing plants in Cayey and Cidra, Puerto Rico.
CSX, also headquartered in Jacksonville, is exploring LNG conversion by partnering with GE Transportation on a test to outfit some diesel-powered locomotives to give them the capability to run on LNG.
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority is looking at constructing a compressed natural gas fueling station and plans to buy 100 natural gas-powered buses over a five-year period.
Military veterans, especially those with fueling experience, are attractive candidates for the LNG industry, as well as workers with mechanical expertise. The area is well positioned to meet these talent needs. More than 3,000 retired military workers return to private work each year in Northeast Florida and the area has a competent supply of experienced workers, providing a diverse talent pool of skilled laborers.
“Northeast Florida is embracing opportunities and encouraging continual development in the LNG industry, and has the desirable and proficient workforce needed to sustain the natural gas and LNG sectors,” said Aaron Bowman, JAXUSA Partnership Senior Vice President.