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Port Manatee entices economic expansion


In today's economic climate, developers are going to have to take an extra step to attract those lucrative business deals. Cutting some of the red tape may be just the ticket.

The newly established Port Manatee Encouragement Zone attracted a long-term deal between HRK Holdings and Mayo Fertilizer, a company based in Mayo, Fla. Gary Kania, the managing partner of HRK, said the company will build an additional 40,000 tons of storage and refurbish existing rail lines, scales and yards to be able to accommodate multiple 100-car trains.

"The PEZ (Port Encouragement Zone) is a progressive program which utilizes Port Manatee as the catalyst and engine for economic growth in the areas surrounding the Port," Kania said. "The program fast-tracks business development by allowing participating landowners in the region to avail themselves of expedited permitting, DRI exemption, impact fee elimination as well as other significant benefits critical to attracting new business especially in our turbulent economy. Without the PEZ program, HRK's milestone project with Mayo may have been adversely delayed or never materialized. The PEZ allowed HRK to be very competitive and deliver this very significant project on an expedited basis."

According to Jill VanderPol, the port's communications manager, the encouragement zone is an initiative to attract major shippers and port-related businesses to move within a field next to the port. VanderPol said the encouragement zone has almost 5,000 acres of land ready for development, and offers the following incentives:

  • DRI exemption (Extension of Florida seaports' Development of Regional Impact exemption)

  • Impact fee reductions

  • Expedited permit approvals

  • Expedited rezoning options

  • Extension of foreign trade zone

  • A proposed Tax Increment Finance (TIF) district

Kania said the port will benefit from the increase in cargo and fees that result from the deal. He said the increased cargo load could result in more jobs for the port as well. Kania said the HRK-Mayo deal could serve to attract similar major deals, which would be a boon to the port in a down economy.

"The construction of our new facilities and enhancement of our heavy industrial infrastructure should serve as a beacon of light to companies all over that HRK's Eastport Development site, in conjunction with a very progressive business attitude in Port Manatee and Manatee County, makes for an ideal location for many business applications requiring Port/Rail access and heavy industrial infrastructure with competitive advantages that cannot be replicated," Kania said. "We at HRK have high expectations for future business growth here in the Port Manatee area."


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