PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The Panama City Port Authority has had an option to buy 27 acres from the paper mill since 2016. On Thursday the port approved the purchase.

Six years ago the port bought 43 acres of paper mill property that WestRock used for storage. The property is not the port’s eastern terminal.

At the same time, the port negotiated the option to buy 27 acres adjacent to the property.

Port officials said they were waiting on $3 million in state funding to buy the property.

“We were able to secure matching funds for the purchase of the option that was approved in 2021 and become available in 2022,” PC Port Authority Executive Director Alex King said. “So that is the schedule we have to exercise the option.”

The state funds will be available on July 1. King said the port had a seven-year timeframe to buy the land. He said the agreement was beneficial for both the mill and port.

“Part of the goal and commitment of the port modernizing those facilities was to ensure and protect WestRock’s ability to ship cargo over those docks,” King said. “And provided a really nice base of cargo for the port authority when they modernized those facilities, shipping in multiple trade lanes throughout the world.”