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Focus on Manatee: Here’s how Port Manatee is investing to support continuing growth

A bird’s-eye view of Port Manatee

Port Manatee is described in this promotional video published by Manatee County Government in 2017 as Southwest Florida's premier deepwater seaport located at the entrance to Tampa Bay. It adds more than $2.3 billion annually in local economic imp
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Port Manatee is described in this promotional video published by Manatee County Government in 2017 as Southwest Florida's premier deepwater seaport located at the entrance to Tampa Bay. It adds more than $2.3 billion annually in local economic imp

Already enjoying record activity, Port Manatee is prudently advancing a multimillion-dollar capital improvement program to ensure its continuing success as a favored gateway for international commerce and cornerstone of our region’s economic well-being.

Benefiting from more than $60 million in investments in the past five years, Port Manatee is looking to put another $72 million-plus to productive use between now and 2022 on a diverse set of projects to further the port’s ability to handle additional global trade as well as meet future demand for cruise ferry facilities.

Funding for the endeavors not only is coming from a portion of the self-supporting port’s revenues but, moreover, the greatest share is to come via state and federal grants and partnerships with private industry.

As prioritized by the Manatee County Port Authority, the list of undertakings slated for the next five years builds upon the successful completion over the past half-decade of such projects as the $11 million reconstruction of Berth 9 to accommodate heavier cargo loads — a project for which Florida Department of Transportation funding covered three-quarters of the cost — as well as development of all-new Berth 14, an adjacent intermodal container yard and a re-engineered south entrance gate.

Carlos Buqueras.jpg
Carlos Buqueras is the executive director at Port Manatee.

Further berth enhancements are currently under way, including the $1 million rehabilitation of Berth 6, another project for which an FDOT grant is picking up three-quarters of the tab.

Now in the design phase are $1 million in improvements to cold storage warehouse facilities, with FDOT monies and private industry combining to bear nearly three-fourths of the cost.

A $946,950 federal port security grant is being augmented by a $315,650 port match to advance expansion of the port’s north gate. The project, expected to get under way in the next month, includes doubling the number of exit lanes to four and implementation of leading-edge card reader technology.

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As part of a multimillion-dollar infrastructure program, Port Manatee’s north gate is to be expanded to double the number of exit lanes to four plus see implementation of leading-edge card reader technology. Provided photo

Furthermore, FDOT is providing half the funding for $4 million in port roadway improvements over a five-year period while also participating in phased expansion of the intermodal container yard.

Looking to 2020 and beyond, planned ventures include additional berth construction and redevelopment, land acquisition, more warehouse improvements, augmenting of harbor crane capabilities and building of a cruise ferry terminal.

All of these projects and more create well-paying jobs related both to construction and ongoing operations, adding to the more than 24,000 jobs Port Manatee supports while generating more than $2.3 billion in annual economic impacts for Manatee County and beyond.

With Port Manatee having achieved numerous records in the first half of its fiscal year and on pace to shatter several full-year marks, we continue to partner in infrastructure enhancements targeted to have the greatest positive impact for decades to come.

Carlos Buqueras is the executive director at Port Manatee and can be reached at cbuqueras@portmanatee.com.

Potential return of cruise ships could help diversify Port Manatee.

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