Jacksonville’s location on the St. Johns River and the Atlantic Ocean proved providential in the growth of the city and its industry. Jacksonville has the largest deepwater port in the South (as well as the second-largest port on the U.S. East coast) and a leading port in the U.S. for automobile imports, as well as the leading transportation and distribution hub in the state. However, the strength of the city’s economy lies in its broad diversification. While the area once had many thriving dairies such as Gustafson’s Farm and Skinner Dairy, this aspect of the economy has declined over time. The area’s economy is balanced among distribution, financial services, biomedical technology, consumer goods, information services, manufacturing, insurance and other industries.
Jacksonville is a rail, air, and highway focal point and a busy port of entry, with Jacksonville International Airport, ship repair yards and extensive freight-handling facilities. Lumber, phosphate, paper, cigars and wood pulp are the principal exports; automobiles and coffee are among imports. The city’s manufacturing base provides just 4.5% of local jobs, versus 8.5% nationally. According to Forbes in 2007, Jacksonville, Florida ranked 3rd in the top ten U.S. cities to relocate to find a job. Jacksonville was also the 10th fastest growing city in the U.S.