PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The Port of Panama City is continuing to grow, and leaders of the port authority hosted a dedication for the new East Terminal on Wednesday morning.

The new site is on S. East Ave near the paper mill. This project has been in the works for nearly five years, and the expansion will provide a huge opportunity for growth in the local region.

The new East Terminal project is the largest project the port authority has ever undertaken, costing over $60 million.

“Triumph Gulf Coast put in $10 million, the Florida DOT stood up for $27 million. We so much appreciate the trust and confidence they had in us and making a good investment here,” said Port Executive Director, Wayne Stubbs.

At the ceremony, Congressman Neal Dunn said the project will provide continued growth for the port.

“This expansion is going to generate over 300 direct jobs and bring even more businesses to our region,” said Congressman Dunn.

Dredging was completed in December and the center has been open and operating since February of 2020. The dedication ceremony was the next step.

“The new East Terminal will forever be dedicated to the safety and well being of the men and women who work at this facility and to the success of the companies who ship their products over the docks of Port Panama City’s East Terminal,” said Port Board Vice-Chairman Dr. James Cook.

“So what you see here now is really just phase one. Its one 900 foot birth, a 260,000 foot warehouse, a 40 car rail yard. We can probably handle about 350,000 to 400,000 tons of cargo through here. Long term phase two will be a second birth, and another warehouse. We have an option to purchase another 30 acres behind here,” said Stubbs.

A new kind of cargo will be leaving this specific terminal.

“This gives the port an opportunity to keep growing, and a whole new niche of cargo activity, with forest product exports on big ships, to the far east and other far destinations. It really opens the door for this port to be a much more relevant and important port on the Gulf Coast,” said Stubbs.

The final phase two is set to be completed in 2024.