Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday he wants state lawmakers to approve $35 million for projects at three of Florida's ports, including the Port of Tampa and Port Canaveral, in an effort to bring more cargo-shipping and manufacturing jobs to the state.
Scott made the announcement at the American Association of Port Authorities' annual convention at the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes.
"We should be the shipping channel for the East Coast," Scott said. "It's ours to lose."
Under the governor's recommendation, Port Canaveral would get $9.7 million toward the second phase of its cargo terminal development. Port Everglades would get $14.7 million to support a "turning notch" project, which would lengthen the existing deepwater turning area for cargo ships, allowing for up to five new cargo berths.
The Port of Tampa would get $10.7 million to improve its container yard.
The expansion of the Panama Canal, which could change the way goods are sent to the U.S. and around the globe, presents a "significant opportunity" for the state, Scott said.
"There will be a significant amount of additional shipments that will come to the East Coast rather than go to the West Coast," he said. "By investing now -- when, as you've heard, the federal government's not doing their job by investing
-- we have the opportunity to get companies to expand here, grow here, and that's what we're going to continue to do."
The Governor's Office said Wednesday from 2011 to 2014, $642 million has been allocated for port projects.
This fiscal year, the state is paying for $275 million in seaport projects, Scott's office said.
Scott said he expects that dedicating money to the state's ports will pay dividends in the form of manufacturing jobs.
"Manufacturers locate close to shipping channels. If you want more manufacturing jobs, you should put more money into ports," he said.