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Port Manatee Looks to Expand Business

Manatee County Port Authority

Manatee County Port Authority officials are looking to expand economic opportunities in preparing for increased shipping traffic once the Panama Canal expansion project is completed. 

“We just traveled down to Charlotte County and gave a presentation,” said Port Manatee Chairman and Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore.  “We are their port and we have actually been reaching out to our legislators on this coast of Florida and also all the counties and going to them; giving them presentations because they may have a contact that could benefit Port Manatee or we may have a contact that could benefit a business of theirs.”

Port Manatee currently has 13 berths for mooring cargo vessels, but has the capacity to construct new berths for the anticipated increased traffic.  Whitmore says that puts Port Manatee in a unique position among sea ports on Florida’s coast.

“There are 5,000 acres across the street from the port that we have encouraged and designated and zoned for port-related development and across the interstate there’s approximately 5,000 more.  So that’s unheard of,” said Whitmore.

Currently Port Manatee has a $2.3 billion dollar economic impact and supports more than 24,000 jobs.  In the fiscal year that ended Sept 30, Port Manatee increased movement of containerized cargo by 83 percent over the previous year. 

Whitmore also touts Port Manatee’s security system.  She says Port Manatee is responsible for training security employees for other Florida ports including Port Miami and Port Tampa Bay.

The Panama Canal expansion is expected to double the amount of traffic through the canal and is slated for completion in 2016.

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John Davis has been a full-time Reporter/Producer for WGCU since 2009. He is the local host for NPRââââ
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