Investment in Florida’s 15 seaports, a key element in Gov. Rick Scott’s economic development plans, continues to yield positive returns for the state. That’s according to a new report released this week by the Florida Ports Council.

The statutorily required Five-year Seaport Mission Plan shows three straight years of growth in cargo and cruise passengers at Florida’s ports.

“Florida seaports have demonstrated three straight years of growth in total cargo tonnage, including an increase of 4.2 percent in 2015/2016,”  said Doug Wheeler, president and CEO of the Florida Ports Council. “This is in addition to a strong cruise sector, where Florida continues to be home to the top three cruise ports (Miami, Canaveral and Everglades) in the world.”  

The 2017-2021 report provides updated numbers for 2016 and shows more than $50 billion dollars in cargo moved through the state’s ports, an increase of 6.4 percent.

It’s estimated 15.5 million cruise passengers will be served this year. That represents a 1.4 percent increase.

Officials with the state’s ports credit the investment in infrastructure for the continued growth. Since 2011, Scott and the Florida Legislature have committed $1 billion dollar to port improvements.

“Due to the state’s priority on seaport development, Florida ports trade with more than 200 countries and continue to expand reach and accessibility every year,” said Wayne Stubbs, the Chairman of the Florida Seaport and Transportation and Economic Development Council and Port Panama City director.

It’s estimated that every dollar the state spends on improvements to its ports has a $7 return in state and local tax revenue.

“Clearly, port infrastructure investments by Governor Scott and the Legislature are paying off as Florida further establishes itself as a key player in the global marketplace,” said Wheeler.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity estimates the state’s ports produce 900,000 direct and indirect jobs throughout the state representing $118 billion dollars in economic activity and $4.2 billion in tax revenue.

“Florida ports are some of the most competitive around the globe and are an indispensable asset for our state’s continued growth, as they attract business investment from across the world,” said DEO’s Executive Director Cissy Proctor.

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