Three of Florida’s 15 sea ports–Port Tampa Bay, JAXPORT and Port Everglades–will receive significant funding from the federal government as the result of an appropriations bill signed into law by President Trump earlier this month.
Together, the three ports will receive $29.3 million dollars from the federal government.
“It is great news that the Trump Administration is making major investments in Florida ports, including Port Tampa Bay, JAXPORT and Port Everglades,” Gov. Rick Scott said. “Since 2011, we have invested over $1 billion in state funding in our 15 world-class seaports and we appreciate the Trump Administration understanding the important role our ports have in supporting our economy and creating jobs. We will continue to work closely with our state and federal partners to make Florida a global hub for trade.”
JAXPORT will receive the biggest share of the funding–$17.5 million.
The money will help pay for the first phase of the deepening of the harbor in Jacksonville. The depth of the harbor is being increased to 47 feet so that JAXPORT can accommodate larger ships that are capable of carrying more cargo.
“The inclusion of this critical harbor improvement project in the work plan sends a clear message: Deepening Jacksonville’s harbor is a project of national importance,” said JAXPORT interim CEO Eric Green. “We are thankful for the support of our elected representatives in Washington, Tallahassee and here at home who are working tirelessly to ensure our port remains competitive in the rapidly expanding Asian trade lane, continues to generate high-quality jobs for the citizens of northeast Florida and remains ready to serve in the interest of national security.”
Port Tampa Bay will receive $9 million in federal funding to help pay for the deepening and widening of a channel in its harbor.
The remaining $2.8 million will be spent on the design and pre-construction engineering of a dredging project to deepen a channel at that port.
“While the need for continuous port development and expansion remains, it is encouraging to see the federal government stepping up to recognize the importance of seaport investments by committing critical funds to these strategic seaport projects,” said Florida Ports Council President and CEO Doug Wheeler.
Gov. Scott has made Florida’s ports a key element of his economic development plans. The state’s continued investment is in its ports is credited for three straight years of growth in cargo and cruise passengers at Florida’s sea ports.
Updated numbers for 2016 that were released earlier this month show 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.
The funds earmarked for the three Florida ports were included in the Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations Bill that was recently signed into law by President Trump.