The Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce’s 2009 annual community conference was held at Amelia Island Plantation Aug. 7-9 and gave special attention to economic development within the four-county Metropolitan Statistical Area of Tallahassee. The Tallahassee MSA includes Gadsden County and its several municipalities.
A key focus of regional economic development opportunity is the impact that intermodal freight transportation offers Northwest Florida especially for an inland rural county such as Gadsden with its location on the CSX Railroad’s east-west main rail line and its access to the Interstate 10 corridor. With added opportunities presented by the CSX rail connection from Tallahassee to Bainbridge, Ga. by way of Havana and the coastal rail connection provided the Apalachicola Northern Railroad line running from Chattahoochee to Port St. Joe via Greensboro.
Intermodal freight transport involves the transportation of freight in an intermodal container or vehicle, using multiple modes of transportation (rail, ship and truck), without any handling of the freight itself when changing modes. The method reduces cargo handling, improves security, may reduce damages and loss and may allow freight to be transported faster.
Major capital improvements to the Panama Canal will soon make possible the passage of very large container ships through the Canal within coming months. These increased shipping resources will have a profound impact on port cities located on the northern Gulf Coast and along the eastern Atlantic seaboard of the United States. According to United States Ambassador to Panama Barbara Stephenson, Florida is well-positioned to take advantage of the economic opportunities the increased shipping volume from Asian markets offers to its various port cities. Increased intermodal shipping will place greater demands on both major and short line rail roads creating new and exciting economic opportunities for inland Florida counties located along major railroad and interstate routes.
Gadsden County Commissioner Doug Croley, who met with Stephenson, CSX Railroad representative Raul Carrasco and other legal and economic development officials detailed Gadsden County’s unique location along Florida’s major east-west transportation route. He also pointed out the advantages of having four major underdeveloped interstate highway exchanges and two underutilized north-south short rail lines.
Croley expressed strong support for any economic development and positive employment opportunities that increased intermodal transportation can generate for the citizens of Gadsden County.