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Officials from three Tampa Bay ports to gather today

PORT MANATEE -- Two months after Florida's top transportation official told the leaders of the three seaports in Tampa Bay to stop bickering and do business like partners, they're finally getting together.

Today, the directors of Port Manatee, Port Tampa Bay and the Port of St. Petersburg will meet at the Florida Department of Transportation's District 7 office in Tampa. Dick Kane, a spokesman for FDOT, said the meeting will cover three points. Those attending must make a commitment to maintaining a positive relationship in public, begin crafting a joint marketing campaign and develop a regional leadership structure.

Officials from the three ports previously met on Aug. 13 at the behest of FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad.

At that meeting, Prasad assigned his assistant secretary of intermodal systems development, Richard Biter, to spearhead the joint effort.

Cooperation items between the ports could include attracting more port-related industry to Tampa Bay and formulating a plan to accommodate jumbo cruise ships.

Port Manatee's executive director, Carlos Buqueras, said he will attend the meeting. No members of the Manatee County Port Commission will be present at the early afternoon meeting.

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