PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — On Wednesday, local and state officials, media and business leaders were invited to tour the Port of Pensacola and receive an inside look at the many tenants doing business in the port.

With the Port of Pensacola being one of the smallest of 15 deep water ports in Florida, port director Clark Merritt said they are always trying to maximize what they do at the port.

“We have a great diverse mix of business partners, with 23 businesses that call this port home,” Merritt said. “The highlight of today is to meet some of the port tenants and see what they do on a daily basis.”

For fiscal year 2022, Merritt said the port moved almost 400,000 tons of cargo through the port, which is a 55 percent increase from year to year.

“We are really proud of that,” Merritt said. “Additionally, our vessel traffic is up almost 77 percent. Also, important to us is the future of the port.”

The port is looking to get a $53,048,217 grant from Triumph Gulf Coast to help fund a $147 million Supply Chain Enhancement project. The $53 million of funding will be used to complete the first phase of elements one through three of the Supply Chain Enhancement Project. According to the port’s pre-application to Triumph, the project consists of all aspects of technical assistance, design and construction of the following elements, intended to maximize use of 75 percent of the port while achieving goals set forth by the community-supported vision plan for the remaining 25 percent.

Element 2 is considered Maritime Center of Excellence and Light Manufacturing Complex, which entails redeveloping a multi-tenant boat launch facility for small boat testing and development, boat manufacturing complex, marine industry training and manufacturing complex, U.S. Sailing Center of Excellence A&E and Construction, intermodal cargo transfer warehouse, flexible maker’s space, Maritime Research and Development Center, a venue space and Marsh Dredge Overlook-A&E Site Plan.

“You can see the vacant land at the North of the port that is ripe for development,” Merritt said. “That is in our future.”

Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson said though the port is small, at 55 acres, they are still trying to add value to what they are doing.

“We’ve gone from being in the red a couple of years ago, to being in the black,” Grover said. “I am very proud of what we have been able to do at the port here and what we will do to continue to grow it. We are very proud of what the future indicates because we can grow this even more, but it doesn’t have to be traditional port stuff. Our goal is not to be the same port as everyone else. Our goal is to be the Port of Pensacola. The port is a part of what we do here in downtown Pensacola. We can continue to do it successfully. We aren’t going to do it like every other port does it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be in the top 10 ports in Florida.”

The six different tenants on the tour were Offshore Inland Marine, Pate Stevedore, Martin Marietta, CEMEX, UWF POP ART and American Magic.

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