Economic Impact of Florida's Deepwater Ports

The Florida Ports Council website, as of July 2011, ". . . cargo-related activity at Florida seaports generates more than 550,000 direct and indirect jobs and contributes $66 billion in economic value to the state. Cargo activities account for approximately 9% of Florida's Gross Domestic Product while contributing $1.7 billion in state and local taxes. Cruise industry activities affect virtually every industry in the country and state generating another 126,000 jobs and $5.2 billion in wages for Florida workers."

Florida's ports also hold great promise for the future. The Panama Canal is currently in the process of a $5.25 billion expansion and is scheduled to be completed in 2015. The expanded Panama Canal is anticipated to permit products made in Asia to be sent directly to the U.S. East Coast and avoid being unloaded on the West Coast for final shipment by train or truck. The New York Times refers to the Panama Canal expansion as ". . . the biggest shift in the freight business since the 1950s", and notes that it could result in ". . . a shift in business worth billions of dollars to ports". (See "A Race to Capture a Bounty from Shipping", The New York Times, December 11, 2010.)

The Community Planning Act and Deepwater Ports

The Community Planning Act includes four primary references to deepwater ports:

  1. Section 163.3177(6)(b), Florida Statutes, identifies different levels of transportation analysis that must be included in a local government's comprehensive plan transportation element based on the size and location of the local government and whether it is in the metropolitan planning area of a Metropolitan Planning Organization. At a minimum, traffic circulation issues related to ports must be addressed as well as plans for port facilities. Section 163.3177(6)(b)3.b, Florida Statutes, also requires that cities greater than 50,000 persons and counties greater than 75,000 persons must address "Plans for port . . . and related facilities coordinated with the general circulation and transportation element." Some or all of these requirements can be addressed in the port master plan.
  2. Section 163.3177(6)(g)8, Florida Statutes, requires that the comprehensive plan's coastal management element "Direct the orderly development, maintenance, and use of ports identified in Section 403.021(9) to facilitate deepwater commercial navigation and other related activities." This requirement can be addressed in the port master plan.
  3. Section 163.3178(2)(k), Florida Statutes, requires that port master plans be included in the local government's coastal management element and requires that port master plans identify existing port facilities and any proposed expansions. To the extent that they are applicable, port master plans must also address the following requirements:
    1. Provide a land use and inventory map of existing coastal uses;
    2. Analyze the environmental, socioeconomic, and fiscal impact of development;
    3. Analyze effects of existing drainage systems on estuarine water quality;
    4. Outline principles for hazard mitigation and protection of human life;
    5. Outline principles for protecting existing beach and dune systems;
    6. Outline principles to eliminate inappropriate and unsafe development;
    7. Identify public access to shoreline areas and preservation of working waterfronts;
    8. Designate coastal high-hazard areas and mitigation criteria;
    9. Outline principles to assure that public facilities will be in place; and,
    10. Mitigate the threat to human life and protect the coastal environment.
  4. Section 163.3178(3), Florida Statutes, provides that certain eligible port expansions, projects, and facilities, both on the port and within three miles of the port, cannot be designated as Developments of Regional Impact if they are consistent with an in compliance port master plan.

Deepwater Ports Master Plans

Below is a list of Florida’s 15 deepwater ports with links to the port websites and, where available, to the port master plan in the corresponding local government’s comprehensive local government's Comprehensive Plan.

Port Canaveral

Port Citrus

Port Everglades

Port of Fernandina

Port of Fort Pierce

Port of Jacksonville

Port of Key West

Port Manatee

Port of Miami

Port of Palm Beach

Port Panama City

Port of Pensacola

Port of Port St. Joe

Port of St. Petersburg

Port of Tampa

Map of Florida's Ports

Activity at Florida's Ports

Activity at Florida's 15 deepwater ports can be measured in terms of both total tonnage shipped and also based on the number of twenty foot equivalent units shipped. The 8-ft by 8-ft by 20-ft intermodal container, or twenty foot equivalent units, is the standard measure used for containerized cargo.

Port Rankings by Tonnage Shipped

Based on total tonnage shipped for the top 150 ports in 2009, Florida's ports rank as follows:

  • Port of Tampa is number 17
  • Port Everglades is number 35
  • Jacksonville is number 38
  • Port of Miami is number 61
  • Port Manatee is number 88
  • Port of Panama City is number 90
  • Port of Palm Beach is number 91
  • Port Canaveral is number 93
  • Port of Pensacola is number 140

Port Rankings by Number of Twenty-foot Equivalent Units Shipped

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Navigation Data Center website provides rankings based on the number of twenty foot equivalent units shipped. For the top 76 ports in 2009, Florida's ports rank as follows:

  • Jacksonville is number 13
  • Miami is number 14
  • Port Everglades is number 15
  • Palm Beach is number 25
  • Tampa is number 35
  • Panama City is number 38
  • Port Manatee is number 45
  • Fort Pierce is number 48
  • Fernandina Beach is number 49

Port Related Organizations

Public Agencies

  1. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Navigation Data Center - The Navigation Data Center provides a collection of data related to the navigable waters in the United States. Data on commerce, facilities, locks, dredging, imports and exports, and accidents are included along with the geographic waterway network.
  2. U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration - The Maritime Administration promotes the use of waterborne transportation and its integration with other segments of the transportation system. The Maritime Administration works in many areas involving ships and shipping, shipbuilding, port operations, vessel operations, national security, environment, and safety.
  3. Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Council - The Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Council is established by Section 311.09, Florida Statutes and is comprised of the directors of the 15 ports listed above, the secretary of the Department of Transportation, and the director of the Department of Economic Opportunity. The Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Council is charged with the preparation of a 5-year Florida Seaport Mission Plan, which must include specific recommendations for the construction of transportation facilities. The State Legislature created the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Council Program in 1990 to finance port transportation projects on a fifty-fifty matching basis.
  4. Florida Ports Financing Commission - The Florida Ports Financing Commission is a local government financing entity created to offer efficiencies in financing public seaport infrastructure projects. The Florida Ports Financing Commission's purpose is to provide a cost-effective means of financing various capital projects for Florida's ports identified and approved by the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Council.
  5. Florida Department of Transportation, Seaport Office - The Seaport Office is responsible for assisting in the development of Florida's 15 deepwater seaports through statewide strategic planning. The Office is also responsible for statewide seaport system planning, project management, coordinating seaport projects with Strategic Intermodal System planning and implementation and coordinating with the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Council.
  6. Florida Department of Transportation, Office of Freight, Logistics and Passenger Operations - acts as a tool to better connect, develop, and implement a freight planning process that maximizes the use of existing facilities and coordinates the various modes of transportation.

Private Agencies

  1. Florida Ports Council (also known as: Florida Seaports Council) - The Florida Ports Council is a Florida nonprofit corporation that serves as the professional association for Florida's 15 deepwater seaports and their management. The Florida Ports Council is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of the 15 port directors with staff support located in Tallahassee. The Florida Ports Council provides leadership, advocacy and information on seaport-related issues before the Legislative and Executive Branches of State and Federal government. Also, pursuant to Florida Statutes, the Florida Ports Council provides administrative support services to the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Council and the Florida Ports Financing Commission.
  2. American Association of Port Authorities - The American Association of Port Authorities is a trade association which represents more than 160 public port authorities in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America.
  3. World Port Source - World Port Source provides interactive satellite images, maps and contact information for 4,571 ports in 196 countries around the world.
  4. Florida Chamber of Commerce - The Florida Chamber of Commerce's website provides a variety of information which focuses on deepwater ports as economic development engines, including international trade, statistics, and publications.
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