PALMETTO – Port Manatee has been awarded $6.4 million in state funding, to be used to enhance several berths at the closest major U.S. port to the Panama Canal. The funding, announced Sept. 24 by Florida Gov. Rick Scott, is part of a $150 million investment in Florida ports from bond proceeds.
“Port Manatee is deeply appreciative of the commitment of Gov. Scott, his Cabinet and the Florida Legislature to our state’s seaports and, specifically, to provide a funding boost for this vital berth project here at Port Manatee,” said Dave Sanford, Port Manatee’s interim chief of staff.
“We understand this commitment is spurred in part by the impending completion of expansion of the Panama Canal, and, as the nation’s closest major port to the Panama Canal, we believe Port Manatee is uniquely positioned to benefit,” Sanford said.
The berth project to which these latest state funds are being directed is designed to double the load capacity at six docks – Berth 6 through Berth 11 – and to increase their capability to accommodate potential future draft of as many as 45 feet.
In addition, Port Manatee looks forward to dedication before yearend of its expanded Berth 12, a 1,584-foot-long wharf with 40-foot draft. Berth 12 will serve such facilities as a new multipurpose roll-on/roll-off terminal, plans for which were jointly announced Sept. 19 by officials of Port Manatee and California-based Pasha Automotive Services.
“Gov. Scott’s recognition of the importance of the project to enhance these six berths demonstrates the dedication of Florida’s leadership to seeing that our port and others in the state are fully prepared to serve burgeoning commerce well into the future,” said Carol Whitmore, chairman of the Manatee County Port Authority. “We express our sincerest gratitude for this funding, which will further help Port Manatee in generating well-paying jobs and other economic benefits for our community.”
Port Manatee is a multipurpose deepwater seaport near the entrance to Tampa Bay that serves bulk, breakbulk, container, heavylift, project and general cargo customers. The port generates more than $2.3 billion in annual economic impact for the local community, while supporting more than 24,000 jobs regionally, without the benefit of ad-valorem taxes.