The newest development at Port Panama City has nothing to do with water or ships. The port is one of only four facilities in the state to receive Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) grants to fund inland operations.
On Monday, Governor Rick Scott announced that the port's new $1.9 million Intermodal Distribution Center project will receive a $900,000 grant to build access roads, a lay-down storage area and 20 car rail intermodal cargo transfer facility with adequate setback to support transfer of bulk products between rail and truck.
The FDOT investment is among the first four grants for the Intermodal Logistics Center (ILC) Infrastructure Support Program which provides an annual allocation of $5 million with a 50% matching fund requirement from applicants.
"I'm committed to ensuring that our transportation projects create more job opportunities for Florida families and this $900,000 investment for the Port of Panama City will create more opportunities for families in the region," Governor Scott said.
FDOT selected four projects to fund from a total of eight applications. The other three selected projects are Keystone ILC Terminal (Jacksonville), South Florida Logistics Center (Miami) and Port Manatee Commerce Center (Palmetto). All four selected projects support and create a total of 1,213 direct and indirect jobs, including 23 at Port Panama City.
Wayne Stubbs, Port Panama City Executive Director, said the funds will jump start plans already in the works at the site on U.S. Highway 231. "Ports now really are spawning inland facilities that create additional value added facilities for handling freight," Stubbs said. "This facility really gives us a way to expand or increase the capacity of the port."
The port's Intermodal Distribution Center property currently includes a 150,000 square foot distribution warehouse and work is underway on a 50 acre site for manufacturing industries. FedEx is nearing completion of a $6 million dollar distribution center.
Stubbs said the new cargo facility will support the transfer of bulk products between rail and truck. He sees growth opportunities in handling commodities such as corn syrup, sugar, feed, fertilizers and other products often shipped in containers.
Port officials hope the Intermodal Distribution Center property will become a transportation hub. "A lot of good things are going on up there, but then that's a vision that we've been working on for over ten years," Stubbs said. "We're glad to see it coming to fruition."
Stubbs said the FDOT grant money will be added to the port's capital budget to fully fund the expansion project, which is expected to take about 18 months to complete.