State of Florida Allocates $250M in Relief for its Seaports

Image courtesy Port Canaveral

Published Jul 29, 2021 2:54 PM by The Maritime Executive

The State of Florida has announced allocations for a $250 million relief package for the state's seaports, shared among 15 port authorities to help them offset the impact of the COVID-19 downturn. 

"This much needed financial infusion will help ensure Florida’s ports continue to deliver necessities to businesses and consumers," said Michael Rubin, the president and CEO of the Florida Ports Council. "With cruise ships sidelined for more than 16 months, Florida has lost about 169,000 jobs and nearly $23 billion in economic activity through 2020."

In March 2020, the CDC effectively forced the cruise industry to cease voyages from U.S. ports, citing the risk of coronavirus spread on board and after passenger disembarkation. The shutdown halted one of Florida's major economic engines, with significant impacts on local communities that depend up on cruise tourism for revenue. 

Cargo operations were also affected as domestic lockdown measures cut into consumer spending. According to the Florida Seaports Transportation and Economic Development Council (FSTED), Florida’s seaports experienced declines consistent with national trends for 2020. Waterborne trade decreased 16.1 percent compared to 2019, translating to a dropoff of $14.1 billion.

"This relief funding is incredibly important to Florida’s seaports and the many thousands of jobs that depend on our success. Our role and responsibility as economic drivers for the state of Florida could not be fulfilled without our partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation,” said Canaveral Port Authority CEO Capt. John Murray.

The support package was spoonsored by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault. With their backing, the state legislature allocated $250 million in federal stimulus funding to provide relief to Florida's seaports. The allocations are focused on cruise ports, including $72 million for Port Canaveral, $66 million for PortMiami, $58 million for Port Everglades and $20 million for Port Tampa Bay.