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If Florida wants to raise its status in moving freight in and out, the key lies in manufacturing.
That's the message State Representative Lake Ray emphasized at the Florida Chamber of Commerce's Transportation Summit.

Right now, Ray said, cities like Chicago are considered major freight and logistics hubs: Located in the heart of the U.S., with rail lines and highways converging on it, it's center of freight transfers.
But Florida, with its 14 ports of varying sizes and niches, railroads and highways, also has the ingredients to be a freight hub, Ray said.

“Chicago is the industrial hub because that's what developed 100 years ago,” Ray said at the conference. “We're following an old plan. We have enormous opportunities in Florida with its 14 ports..... We just have to move the market.”
By moving the market, Ray said he means moving the industrial center from Chicago to Florida. And he has a plan to do so.

“We have to target one or two manufacturers in Chicago and figure out how to bring them into the state,” he said. “And you have to do what you have to do: give away the farm or half the farm.”
Ray said that by enticing some big-name manufacturers to move from Chicago to the Sunshine State, Florida could “freeze out Chicago” — figuratively and literally.
“In a few weeks, I could be freezing in Chicago or playing golf down here,” he joked.

He added that state legislators are making moves to increase manufacturing, and industry that is growing nationwide as companies reshore as American-made products increase in popularity and reliability.
Because energy costs are a huge factor in the manufacturing industry, the legislation is looking to reduce prices, which Ray said can be 10 percent, 15 percent, sometimes 100 percent higher than other competing states.
“The state legislature will hopefully take a stronger look at energy,” he said, “and [as voters] reject raising rates, because if not you're rejecting the opportunity to grow markets.”
Not only does manufacturing provide high paying jobs that in turn create more jobs, Ray said, but it boosts logistics and the economy as more goods come out of Florida.

“Florida is engaged and its got what it takes,” he said. “We can disrupt other ports and have manufacturers come here. We can make goods better, faster and cheaper.”