Over the past three decades, Florida’s seaports have invested billions of dollars to expand capacity and connectivity, both critical components in the efficient movement of people and cargo on and off the port. Our seaports work to enhance the state’s economy and the quality of life in Florida by fostering the growth of domestic and international waterborne commerce.
Florida’s ports support nearly 900,000 jobs across the state, generating local and state tax revenues in excess of $4.3 billion and nearly $117.6 billion in total economic activity. That’s 13 percent of Florida’s GDP.
The COVID-19 pandemic impacts on our state and our ports have only highlighted the continued importance of strategic investment. Investing in port infrastructure keeps our state and local economies healthy and moves commerce safely and efficiently 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The goals of Florida’s port system include:
• Develop world-class cargo and cruise facilities to enhance Florida’s global competitiveness.
• Build system-wide, seamless intermodal facilities to move port goods and passengers efficiently and cost-effectively.
• Capitalize on increased north-south trade and the Panama Canal expansion to capture more direct all-water service and feeder calls.
Pictured previous spread: PortMiami Northview: Last year PortMiami set another world record in cruise passenger traffic with nearly 6.8 million vacationers sailing through “The Cruise Capital of the World”; Port of Palm Beach: The Port of Palm Beach is the fourth-busiest container port in Florida.
• Strengthen and diversify strategic seaport funding to ensure vital and timely improvements.
• Advocate continued statewide economic development that includes investment in major economic engines – Florida seaports.
• Support security measures that balance compliance with an efficient flow of seaport commerce.
To ensure we can meet these goals, even with the uncertainty ahead, our ports have capital improvement plans that total more than $3 billion over the next five years, providing jobs and huge economic impacts in local communities.
BUSINESS OF PORTS
Florida ports act as an economic multiplier, contributing billions to the state’s economy and creating jobs and a higher standard of living for residents. Strategic investment in port and associated infrastructure is necessary for Florida’s seaports to remain competitive and continue generating prosperity in the Sunshine State.
Pictured: Port Tampa Bay: Port Tampa Bay remains the energy conduit for all of West Central Florida, with all the gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel and ethanol for the region moving through the Port; right: The Port of Pensacola maintains its core assets for cargo and trade activity while allowing space for blue economy sectors, such as aquaculture, marine technology and biology, and ocean industry career training.
Ports are facilitators. They provide the infrastructure necessary to accept and move trade as well as passenger vessels. As such, port infrastructure must meet the demands of private industry. Growing vessel size, for example, introduces a number of infrastructure stressors. Are the channel and harbor deep enough to accommodate a larger ship? Upon arrival, is the berth sufficient? Are the cargo staging areas large enough? Will the landside passenger needs be met? Are the intermodal connections sufficient? Port officials monitor the pulse of both the shipping industry and the port community to maintain competitiveness and cohesion.
Our state’s ports have continued growing their cargo portfolios, consistently increasing movements across the three most important metrics: tonnage, value and TEUs. Expansion of the Panama Canal, completed in 2016, presented an opportunity for Florida ports to serve larger vessels.
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