PANAMA CITY Fla. (WMBB) — Wednesday was the first day of the Florida Ports Council’s annual fall conference. This year the event was hosted in Panama City which allowed leaders from the Panama City Port Authority to share what they’ve been doing to help expand the port.
Hurricane Michael devastated Port Panama City, but Executive Director Alex King said they had to keep looking forward.
“It was all about making sure that our customers knew we were coming back and to make sure that repairs were made as quickly as possible,” King said.
Now almost three years later, King said the growth is inspiring.
“The key points of the port have been cargo diversification and investment in port infrastructure,” He said.
Wednesday, King took the other port leaders from across Florida on a tour of the grounds, explaining their major development points such as copper imports from South America and the expansion of their cargo portfolio.
“We have been able to increase our exports from 325 thousand tons a year all the way to 850 thousand tons annually,” King said. “We expect that to grow, balancing our trade so we have a balanced import and export trade out of Panama City.”
He said their increase in customers means an increase in jobs in Bay County.
“You have increased jobs of port authority personnel, increased jobs in the city to handle truck drivers that come in and out, and also construction jobs for the port infrastructure projects that we have,” King said.
King said none of this would be possible without the addition of their east terminal that handles over 150 tons of cargo. He said this will set the tables for generations to come. This port ships to Asia, the Mediterranean, and northern Europe.
“As a port, you need to keep growing, you need to keep diversifying and so we have been able to attract new cargo through that terminal,” King said.
He said there are a lot of new projects in the works to continue the port’s advancement and is looking forward to future trade.