‘State of The Port’ Address Is A Blockbuster

By  //  June 12, 2013

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BUSINESS & COMMERCE

ABOVE VIDEO: Port Canaveral has an illustrious past…as an historic participant in the space program, a strategic base for our military, a rising cargo and cruise port and home to many businesses.

BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA, FLORIDA — At one of the most comprehensive and impressive “State of the Port” presentations in recent history, Canaveral Port Authority representatives outlined the Port’s initiatives and plans for growth and development.

Port Authority Chairman, Tom Weinberg (Port Canaveral Facebook image)

Port Authority Chairman Tom Weinberg (Port Canaveral Facebook image)

The multimedia presentation took place before a standing room only audience at the Bernie Simpkins Fine Arts Center on the Cocoa, campus of Eastern Florida State College (formerly Brevard Community College). Port Authority Chairman Tom Weinberg opened the meeting, thanking the college president, Dr. James H. Richey, and welcomed many distinguished guests and elected officials.

“Sixty years ago, on Nov 4, 1953 we had a dedication in this community for Port Canaveral and that was the official beginning of the business of government of Port Canaveral,” said Weinberg. “It was then, that our local leaders realized the economic value of a deep water Port and wanted to develop it to it’s full potential and today the Port has a $2.1 billion annual economic impact.”

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“We’ve developed two (citizen) committees in the past 12 months: the Transportation Committee, made up of local business leaders and our staff, have met to improve traffic flow at the Port; and the Charter Review Committee of 10, led by Scott Bond has worked tirelessly on our charter. When this new charter is re-written and approved, we will have a stronger and better charter to operate under for years to come.”

Chairman Weinberg emphasized the Port commission’s new emphasis on what he calls “transparency and community engagement” through citizen input and citizen committees.

“We’ve developed two (citizen) committees in the past 12 months: the Transportation Committee, made up of local business leaders and our staff, have met to improve traffic flow at the Port; and the Charter Review Committee of 10, led by Scott Bond has worked tirelessly on our charter. When this new charter is re-written and approved, we will have a stronger and better charter to operate under for years to come.”

Before Weinberg introduced Interim Port CEO John Walsh, Weinberg described Walsh’s array of business, development, engineering, real estate and management work experience. Walsh proceeded to describe the Port’s past 60 years of history, the Port’s current condition and the vision for the Port’s future.

60 YEARS OF BOLD VISIONING, TRIBUTES TO BRAVE LEADERS

Mac McLouth

Mac McLouth has had a life-long, commitment and dedication to the Port, serving as both a commissioner and as the Port’s Executive Director. (image for SpaceCoastDaily)

Walsh paid tribute to Captain Ed Lanni. “Before there was a port there was Captain Ed Lanni, who was recently honored with an Ancient Mariner Award –thank you Capt Lanni,” said Walsh.

Walsh then reviewed many historical photos of the Port and its leaders, “George King, Charles Rowland, Stan Payne, Mac McLouth, Glen Cheek and many other fine men and women, all worked hard, to expand and build, to vision and plan, to shape the Port that we have today,” he said.

Walsh described the early days of the Port, reminiscing about the Sea Escape, The Big Red Boat era, the QEII’s two visits, The Scandinavian of the Sea, lumber cargo, the citrus industry, break bulk, cars parking on the piers and the U.S Coastguard’s long term relationship with the Port.

“We can make our port a new destination for our region, a new kind of space,” said Walsh. “We can be the deep water port for all of Florida and for our region and much more economically than the $800 million being debated for the cities of Jacksonville, Tampa and the south east. We have a short channel and we have a mission to go deeper again.”

STABLE FINANCES, STRONG CASH FLOWS, OUTSTANDING EMPLOYEES

“We have stable finances, strong business models, low to moderate debt and we plan to keep it that way; strong cash flows, reinvesting into ourselves,” said Walsh.

“We have stable finances, strong business models, low to moderate debt and we plan to keep it that way; strong cash flows, reinvesting into ourselves,” said Walsh. “We are No. 2 in cruise and moving to No. 1 soon. (We have) world class cargo tenants with massive growth opportunity, a friendly, down to earth atmosphere. capable and energized staff and a commission willing to embrace the future.”

“We are No. 2 in cruise and moving to No. 1 soon. (We have) world class cargo tenants with massive growth opportunity, a friendly, down to earth atmosphere. capable and energized staff and a commission willing to embrace the future.”

John Walsh

John Walsh

The Port’s master plan has been decided and RFQ’s are going out soon for further development in the Port’s commercial area. Dredging will continue to be a common sight at the Port. “We are at 44 (deep) feet now in our main channel and soon we will have conversations about going to 50 and 55 feet because the ships that are being manufactured today are deeper hulled,” said Walsh.

Walsh praised his Port staff, comparing them favorably to any similar port staff in the world, emphasized the friendly nature of the port employees, including the only seaport police force in the world who keep the port safe. “We cannot afford a single incident,” said Walsh

FOUR BUSINESS MODELS, WORLD CLASS CRUISE PARTNERS

“Our four business models are Cruise, Cargo, Recreation and Entertainment and Real Estate,” said Walsh.

“This is a port director’s dream. We will see a day soon when we have six and seven ships in Port. We have some of the best cruise partners in the world with Carnival Cruise Lines, the Dream and the Ecstasy calling our port home. The Carnival Pride visits on Ports of Calls and the Carnival Sensation does three and four day jaunts for that quick get-a-way weekend. The Disney Dream and the Fantasy offer an array of three, four, five and seven day cruises, The Freedom of the Seas, the Enchantment of the Seas, and the Explorer of the Seas will be our third Royal Caribbean home port ship, offering eight, five day with nine day cruise mixes, starting in the fall of 2014.

“This is a port director’s dream. We will see a day soon when we have six and seven ships in Port. We have some of the best cruise partners in the world with Carnival Cruise Lines, the Dream and the Ecstasy calling our port home. The Carnival Pride visits on Ports of Calls and the Carnival Sensation does three and four day jaunts for that quick get-a-way weekend. The Disney Dream and the Fantasy offer an array of three, four, five and seven day cruises, The Freedom of the Seas, the Enchantment of the Seas, and the Explorer of the Seas will be our third Royal Caribbean home port ship, offering eight, five day with nine day cruise mixes, starting in the fall of 2014.

“And of course Norwegian Cruise Lines with the Gem and the Jewel with Ports of Call here. We will be working with them to see if they too, will again call Port Canaveral their home port. Our annual Ports of Call are now up to 138 and we are the only port in Florida that is not only a home port, but also a Port of Call destination.”

The Norwegian Breakaway will come this fall, now sailing from New York City and uniquely about 100-200 passengers will be able to board that ship here, go to the Bahamas and then go to New York City as a Port of Call. Port Canaveral will be it’s partial home port after some details are worked out with customs.

CARGO AND MORE

Lumber was one of the first cargo industries at the Port. (Port Canaveral image)

Lumber was one of the
first cargo industries at the Port. (Port Canaveral image)

“Cargo continues to grow with our long association with Morton Salt and others. Lehigh Hanson has a slag facility which is a world class venue, is growing their business and will soon not only be importing but also exporting out of our port,” said Walsh.

“Ceemex, although idle during the recession, now foresees a time soon when it will be operating again, as Florida begins to build again. Jobs created directly out of the port are 7,902 jobs and overall jobs created exceed 16,983 but we know we can do better.”

2013 FRIEND OF THE PORT AWARD

Walsh presented Seaport Canaveral as the 2013 Friend of the Port.

“I chose Seaport, as they have consistently gone over and above the norm in how they do business,” said Walsh. “They have made a substantial investment in our port and they represent two thirds of our total cargo tonnage.”

“We have the capacity to double in size and the market in cruise is growing over the next 20 years,” said Walsh. ”We are uniquely positioned to meet that demand. Our folksy, down to earth style here at Port Canaveral will continue. We will never be slick and glamorous like south Florida but we will welcome people into our community.

Walsh highlighted the restaurants, bars and attractions throughout the Port and the plans for the new amphitheater, which will be used for live entertainment, drawing thousands of visitors to the port each year.

“We have the capacity to double in size and the market in cruise is growing over the next 20 years,” said Walsh. “We are uniquely positioned to meet that demand. Our folksy, down to earth style here at Port Canaveral will continue. We will never be slick and glamorous like south Florida but we will welcome people into our community.

“When you add in our one-day cruises, we are No. 1 in the world already and when you add the new Norwegian ship, that will catapult our numbers even higher. In January, with the return of the Disney Magic, we will have three Disney ships using our port as their home port. The Royal Caribbean Quantum Of The Seas, currently under construction, will call on Port Canaveral and we need to find a home for this ship. We are going to look at (building) a world class cruise training facility and an expansion of our Fire Training Facility.”

GOVERNMENTAL SUPPORT OF THE PORT: SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT 

“Every port is fighting for a smaller and smaller pot,” said Walsh.

Aerial view of the harbor inlet on Dedication Day, November 4, 1953. (Port Canaveral image)

Aerial view of the harbor inlet on Dedication Day, November 4, 1953. (Port Canaveral image)

“The budget for the Army Corps of Engineers is the same as it was in 1962. The State of Florida has been a great partner with us and I am proud to announce today, that we have recently been awarded an additional $6.5 million dollars towards our new cruise terminal. That’s on top of the Governors $24 million to help us widen and deepen our channel along with an existing $18 million of homeland and state grants we have in place. We will continue to be bold in our ask to get our fair share. We will make sure we are noticed.”

INLAND CONNECTIVITY AND GROWTH

Walsh described how the port is looking to re-activate a shipping barge line between the Port and a rail spur in Port. St John, so that cargo may be moved from the Port to a Florida East Coast Railway.

A fixed bridge over the barge canal is needed. Our port with seven and eight cruise ships berthed is coming sooner than you think and we need to get ready for the lodging, entertainment and logistic needs to handle that volume of business. With reservations that we have recently taken, we have a 7 ship-day planned in February of 2015. The future is upon us my friends. We don’t have 7 cruise ship berths, but we will when the time comes. We have 258 acres of port submerged land that is part of our charter already, in the north and west side in the banana river and that is where we will have a break through for a north harbor. We will be bringing to the commission this week, some initial environmental testing to look at doing this responsibly. We are good stewards of our environment but the human species matters as well and the port needs to grow.

“We also want to see OIA (Orlando International Airport) connected to our port,” said Wash.

“We want to see three lanes each way, six total, on State Road 528. That is scheduled for 2028, so we need to move that effort forward.

A fixed bridge over the barge canal is needed. Our port with seven and eight cruise ships berthed is coming sooner than you think and we need to get ready for the lodging, entertainment and logistic needs to handle that volume of business. With reservations that we have recently taken, we have a seven ship-day planned in February of 2015. The future is upon us my friends. We don’t have seven cruise ship berths, but we will when the time comes.

We have 258 acres of port submerged land that is part of our charter already, in the north and west side in the banana river and that is where we will have a break through for a north harbor. We will be bringing to the commission this week, some initial environmental testing to look at doing this responsibly. We are good stewards of our environment but the human species matters as well and the port needs to grow.

We are in discussions with NASA to build a hard rail and bring that over the river. A new container cargo terminal is coming together with state of the art technology. We are moving almost four million tons of cargo over our piers.

Commercial fishing is alive and well in our port and will remain so. Our vision is for eco-parks within our port. Fireworks and regular nightly shows, we want to expand, to draw crowds of people into our port. The Cove Marketplace will be back and we will have festivals of all kinds. We will always have our boat ramps available for everyone.”

WORKING HAND IN HAND WITH THE EDC

“We are working hand in hand with the EDC (Economic Development Council) to encourage investment and development,” said Walsh.

EDC-325“We see potential where other people might see blight. We need to diversify our economy to create a world trade center and maritime center. A place where foreign traders can get a foot hold in Florida business, where they can come and be comfortable to buy and sell. We want to create a small business incubator and will work with EFSC, FIT and UCF to create a way for small business to flourish with a maritime focus. We want to see an Enterprise Zone along the barge canal lands and we will work with County Commissioner Chuck Nelson and County Manager Howard Tipton to make that happen.

“Our founders and original commissioners were pioneers,”  said Walsh.

“We owe them and we owe our community, the same type of forward thinking today. Your port has a solid financial condition, we are keeping our eye on the bottom line and we don’t take our eye of it.”

CLICK HERE FOR MORE ABOUT THE EARLY DAYS OF PORT CANAVERAL


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