$20 million worth of funds from the state are helping to bring a port back to Port St. Joe. The dredging project will cost more than 40 million and Wednesday the St. Joe Port Authority held an informative meeting with Gulf County Port St. Joe officials to talk business.
"We have to have a ship channel of 25 foot depth if we plan on having another highway to bring jobs and cargo in here," said Port Authority Commissioner Eugene Raffield. "We have to have a ship channel dredged."
It was a packed house at the emergency management center in Port St. Joe Wednesday. Gulf County Chairman Ward McDaniel weighed in on the discussion with Port Authority Commissioner Leonard Costin on the St. Joe company's role in the port project.
The Port Authority in St. Joe currently doesn't own the land near the channel, but is responsible for getting a port back up and running and creating jobs in the region. The channel will have to be dredged to 35 feet to make room for ships -- and with the Panama canal widening their depth -- officials say now is the perfect time to get the project up and running.
"It's a natural channel in the state of Florida," said McDaniel. "It's one of the few that's a natural channel and it wouldn't require a lot of maintenance once we get it dredged back to its original depth."
"I think if you see this happen you are going to be able to see our kids graduate from Port St. Joe high school and Wewahitcka high school and be able to stay here in Gulf county with their grandparents and their parents and watch them make a living again," said Raffield.
$20 million will need to be matched with the states $20 million appropriation. A future meeting is in the works to include elected officials from Calhoun, Jackson, and even Leon counties.