Florida to Provide Ports with $250 Million in COVID-19 Relief Funds
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault have announced plans to allocate $250 million in COVID-related financial relief to Florida’s ports.
According to a report released last week by Florida Seaports Transportation and Economic Development Council, the state’s seaports experienced declines “consistent with the overall trend for 2020”. For example, waterborne trade value decreased 16.1 percent compared to 2019, representing a drop off of $14.1 billion.
“Not only are Florida ports a key economic driver for their surrounding communities, but also for our state as a whole,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “From the cruise industry, to cargo, to supporting military operations, our ports provide nearly 1 million jobs for Floridians. This $250 million investment in our ports is a commitment to our future economic prosperity for generations to come.”
At Governor DeSantis’ recommendation, the $250 million in federal stimulus will come from the 2021-2022 state budget and will be spread across the state’s 15 seaports. Port Canaveral will receive the largest share of the funds, amounting to $72 million. The world’s busiest cruise port, PortMiami, will receive almost $67 million.
The suspension of the cruise shipping industry during the COVID-19 pandemic has a big economic impact on the state.
“This much needed financial infusion will help ensure Florida’s ports continue to deliver necessities to businesses and consumers,” said Michael Rubin, President and CEO, 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. We thank Governor DeSantis, Senate President Simpson, House Speaker Chris Sprowls and DOT Secretary Thibault for their leadership.”
“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. We thank Governor DeSantis, the Florida Legislature and Secretary Thibault for their support of our mission delivering economic prosperity to our communities,” Canaveral Port Authority CEO Capt. John Murray, Chairman, FSTED.
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