By Michael Rubin, Interim President and CEO
Florida’s 15 deep water seaports will soon see critical COVID-related financial relief, thanks to Governor Ron DeSantis’ signing of the 2021-2022 state budget. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant and ongoing economic impacts to Florida’s seaports, and this important investment will help ensure Florida’s ports continue to deliver necessities to businesses and consumers.
At the Governor’s recommendation, and with the support of Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault, the Florida Legislature allocated $250 million in federal stimulus to help shore up Florida’s seaport industry. Florida has lost an estimated 169,000 jobs and nearly $23 billion in economic activity through 2020 as a result of cruise ships being sidelined for 14 months.
As I’ve traveled to numerous ports over the last several weeks, it’s clear that cruise ships are gearing up to return to more normal business. Final details on what that looks like varies, and many are awaiting the outcome of a court ruling in the case between Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and the federal Centers for Disease Control as it pertains to proof of vaccination.
As Florida’s population continues to grow, we continue to be focused on the important role Florida’s seaports will play in the movement of goods, services and people. That’s why we were proud to join our partners from across Florida recently to continue helping develop the Florida Transportation Plan.
While preparing for Florida’s future is vital, we also know the importance of ensuring Florida is prepared for hurricane season. Recently I had the opportunity to join the Port Canaveral Authority in hosting Florida’s new Director of Emergency Management, Kevin Guthrie, in a meeting with the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Council as part of our Seaport/Emergency Management planning efforts. This important gathering provided an opportunity for leaders from Florida’s 15 seaports to meet the new director, and share how their individual ports are fully prepared for the Atlantic Hurricane Season. Director Guthrie recently took over for outgoing Director Jared Moskowitz. Special thanks to our site host, Port Canaveral.
As always, we stand by you, to serve and protect Florida’s seaports.