In response to infrastructure developments in rival states, Florida Ports Council President and CEO Mike Rubin is urging the Florida Legislature to increase investments in the state’s seaports
The Florida Ports Council is lobbying the Florida Legislature for increased investment in the state’s seaports amidst infrastructure gains made in competing states Texas and Georgia.
In his monthly ‘President’s Message’ update, President and CEO of the Florida Ports Council Mike Rubin called upon the state’s lawmakers to make stronger investments in Florida’s ports. Rubin specially made mention of improvements to dock rehabilitation, port capacity increases, cargo container handling crane support, connectivity improvements, and congestion relief.
Rubin’s plea to legislators comes as competing states have increased investments in their port infrastructures, including Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s approval of $200 million for 31 different seaport projects and the expansion of the Brunswick port facility in Georgia in an attempt to become the largest hub for automobile imports.
“As history has proven, investments in our seaports lead to more jobs and revenue for Florida’s economy,” said Rubin. “But Florida literally faces a fork in the road decision – we either continue to make significant investments to allow Florida to seize the growing global trade opportunity, or we allow it to pass us by for states like California, Texas, Georgia, and others on the Eastern seaboard.”
In Gov. Ron DeSantis’ budget recommendations for Fiscal Year 2024-25, he recommended $75 million in grants for Florida’s ports, logistics centers, and fuel pipelines, including vertiport development. The governor also $109.6 million for port infrastructure improvements.
Broadly speaking, Florida’s sixteen seaports generated $117.6 billion in economic output last year, accounting for 13.3 percent of the state’s overall GDP in 2022, according to Rubin.
The state’s ports received 112.5 million tons of cargo in 2022, an all-time high and a six percent increase compared to the year prior. An economic impact report also disclosed that cargo and cruise activities supported 900,000 direct and indirect jobs across the state. The state’s seaports handled 4,310,054 TEUs, 26.1 million container tons, 22.4 million dry bulk tons, 54.8 million liquid bulk tons, 9.03 million breakbulk tons, 631,157 vehicles, and 10.7 million cruise passengers.
Moreover, Florida-based cruise activity’s direct expenditures generated 158,992 jobs, $8.1 billion in income across the state, and more than $9.0 billion in direct revenue for Florida businesses, with 11 million passengers in 2022.