Gov. Ron DeSantis directed $250 million of federal COVID-19 relief funds on Thursday toward Florida’s pandemic-ravaged seaport system.
The money, provided via the American Rescue Plan, will help ports recover revenue lost amid the pandemic. Ports can also use the dollars to invest in seaport infrastructure projects.
In a statement, DeSantis noted the major role ports play in Florida’s economic health. In all, ports generate an economic impact of $117.6 billion and support 900,000 jobs.
“Not only are Florida ports a key economic driver for their surrounding communities, but also for our state as a whole,” DeSantis said in a press release. “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.”
Notably, the dollars will provide a long-needed shot in the arm to Florida’s gateways to the sea.
Under the latest federal COVID-19 relief bill, ports did not directly receive bailout money. Instead, the money was distributed through the states for disbursement at the Governor’s discretion.
Ports waited months.
“It’s been a tough ride,” said John W. Murray, port director and chief executive officer of the Canaveral Port Authority.
Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Thibault said the money’s impact will ripple into neighboring communities.
“The impact seaports have on every region in our state is enormous and, under the Governor’s leadership, the state continues to make key investments in our transportation network to keep our state moving forward and ensure that goods make it to consumers efficiently,” Thibault said. “The funding announced today will have lasting positive impacts and significantly assist our seaport partners, as well as their surrounding communities.”
A full list of disbursements is available online.