Read the full story at: Bradenton Herald
Port Manatee is one of Florida’s largest and fastest-growing deep-water seaports. Yet, because its operations are largely hidden from casual view, its immense contributions to the local community can easily be overlooked.
Located near the entrance to Tampa Bay, on the west side of U.S. 41 in Palmetto, Port Manatee helps power the economic well being of Manatee and Sarasota counties, generating more than $2.3 billion in annual impact for the regional community while supporting more than 24,000 jobs – all without local tax support.
Indeed, contrary to popular belief, Port Manatee is not a unit of Manatee County’s government and generates tax revenue for the county. Created by the Florida Legislature and governed by the Manatee County Port Authority, Port Manatee – like any other business entity – relies upon revenue to meet expenses and make prudent investments in infrastructure initiatives to support future growth.
But how does the port support all the jobs? Port Manatee is a hybrid between a landlord port and an operating port. While the port authority retains ownership of the land, it leases acreage and infrastructure to private operating companies.
These operating companies, many with longstanding relationships with the port, hire hundreds of workers to keep the supply chain moving. An example is the world’s No. 1 fresh pineapple marketer, Fresh Del Monte Produce, which has been importing fruit into Port Manatee since 1989 and recently signed an agreement to keep its bananas and pineapples coming into the port for as many as 20 more years.
Furthermore, Port Manatee creates job opportunities by attracting business through its maritime facilities and by marketing Port Manatee and the region to companies worldwide. One such company is Air Products and Chemicals Inc., the world’s leader in liquefied natural gas technology and equipment.
In early 2014, Air Products opened its 32-acre Air Products Port Manatee facility across from the port and is exporting – through the port – immense, high-value LNG heat exchangers.
To promote foreign direct investment into Manatee County and the region, Port Manatee has established an on-port international trade hub and embarked upon foreign trade missions to Europe and Latin America. In addition, Port Manatee encourages international trade representatives from other nations to visit Manatee County and see for themselves the opportunities offered by the port, as the closest U.S. deep-water seaport to the expanded Panama Canal and to Cuba’s Port of Mariel.
The port and its partners each year move approximately 8 million tons of containerized, break-bulk, bulk and project cargo, including fresh produce, natural gas, forestry products, petroleum, citrus juice, fertilizer, steel, aluminum, automobiles, cement, aggregate and more. In fact, in just one year, more than 48 million pineapples and 1 billion bananas are imported through Port Manatee.
To provide an up-close view of the port and insights into its role in the community, Port Manatee continues to offer its public tram tour program. The port’s open-air tram is scheduled to depart for one-hour tours each Monday and Wednesday morning from October through May. Reservations for port tours can be made in advance at portmanatee.com by clicking on public tours under the community tab. Also, Port Manatee staff members are available to speak to community groups; for more information, click on speakers under the community tab.
It is a privilege to apply my 25 years of Florida port leadership to my role at Port Manatee, guided by our recently enacted master plan and working with forward-thinking port authority members, our highly dedicated port staff team and the full spectrum of diverse stakeholders in furthering the vast benefits provided by Port Manatee.