On March 7, 2017, after two years of planning with several local partners, HUD's Jacksonville team helped launch the Jacksonville Port Academy. Its objective: Help fill port jobs with economically challenged residents in the area, and ex-offenders from the surrounding community.
The Port of Jacksonville is a regional economic engine creating abundant new job opportunities in North Florida. Their jobs pay an average annual salary of $51,000 which is above the Jacksonville area average wage of $38,000. Interestingly, the port-related jobs are typically unfilled in the shadow of stubbornly high unemployment rates in the economically disadvantaged areas adjacent to the port.
The Jacksonville Port Academy will provide the missing link: Access to training resources to acquire the varied essential skills in target positions. The lead organization for the Jacksonville Port Academy is Operation New Hope, in partnership with JaxPort. Other participants besides HUD are Florida State College at Jacksonville; the University of North Florida; the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce; West Side Church of Christ; and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC-Jacksonville).