Key Economic Engine, Port Canaveral Revs Up For 2017 With History of Great Bond Ratings
By Space Coast Daily // July 29, 2016
Projects Funded Without Local Taxes
BREVARD COUNTY PORT CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – As the Canaveral Port Authority nears the end of Fiscal Year 2016, Port Canaveral has earned global respect as a cruise port – the second busiest in the world – and is growing in recognition for its cargo operations, having expanded and diversified into containers and autos with new terminals built to support and attract new business and jobs to Brevard County and the Central Florida region.
Port Canaveral is poised for next-level success without dependence on local taxes that have not been levied in 30 years.
In 2016, the five-member Board of Commissioners moved forward with major investments to upgrade Port infrastructure to retain its competitive edge in both cruise and cargo sectors.
As a result of its excellent revenue bond credit rating (reaffirmed Fitch “A” rating in 2016), the Port Authority has been able to reinvest into its facilities with the revenue generated from its operations combined with advantageous revenue bond financing.
“We expect the revenue increase resulting from port investments to increase in Fiscal Year 2017 between 7 and 10 percent,” says Rodger Rees, Port Canaveral’s Chief Financial Officer.
“With our excellent banking relationships and bonding capacity, we have been able to customize our project financing at highly competitive and advantageous rates.”
Eighty percent of the Port’s revenue is generated from cruise business, making it imperative to provide the state-of-the art facilities necessary to service today’s largest and most sophisticated cruise ships that now homeport or make a port call for the day.
To meet cruise industry demand, the Port Authority launched a capital improvement program that included an upgrade of Cruise Terminal 5 and renovation of Cruise Terminal 10, currently is in progress.
Both terminals were built during the early 1990s and required expansion and new technologies to accommodate larger vessels.
The transition to larger vessels began in May with the introduction of the Carnival Magic and will continue in November with the arrival of Norwegian Epic – the ninth largest cruise ship in the world—and Royal Caribbean’s gigantic Oasis of the Seas – the flagship of the largest class of cruise ships in the world. All three ships will homeport at Port Canaveral.
“Last year, we hosted 4.17 million passenger movements,” says Port Canaveral CEO John Murray. “We expect to increase that by 6-7 percent by 2017.”
Murray expects the Port to host as many as seven cruise ships in one day by later this year.
As a premier maritime gateway, Port Canaveral also is investing in the facilities shippers need to take advantage of Central Florida’s time- and cost-saving location with its proximity to major markets and efficient transportation links.
In conjunction with harbor improvements that includes a new channel depth of 43’ to accommodate larger vessels, Port Canaveral’s expansion includes building facilities that are designed to amplify and enhance business activity at this local, regional, and national strategic asset.
In 2016, the Port Authority developed a new automotive and heavy vehicle import/export facility and processing center, which Delaware-based AutoPort Inc. operates, with its first shipment of import vehicles having arrived just this week.
Also this year, the Canaveral Cargo Terminal, Port Canaveral’s first dedicated container facility which opened last year, attracted its first weekly container service. Streamlines N.V., part of the Seatrade Group, made Port Canaveral the exclusive U.S. stop on its BlueStream weekly container service. Additional services will join the mix later this fall.
“As cargo facility investments come online and utilization increases, the Port Canaveral vision of growing its multimodal logistics and distribution capabilities to support the Central Florida community is becoming a reality,” says Jerry Allender, chairman of the Canaveral Port Authority Board of Commissioners.
With every decision, the Port Authority as a key economic engine for Brevard County, keeps in focus its primary mission to serve as the Central Florida maritime gateway for the import and export of consumer goods which creates jobs and business opportunities for the local community.
Looking to the future, and as required by Florida statute, the Port Authority is developing a strategic master plan to define a long term vision and development plan that ensures the best use of limited land resources and is sustainable, viable, supported by the community and in full compliance with the Port District Charter.
“While we are first in discussions with Port stakeholders, including tenants and business partners, to receive their input, we next will host meetings with our community for public input into this process,” Allender added.
“We invite all to participate so we together are able to plan for our future and continue economic prosperity for our region.”
As a part of the master plan process, the Port Authority will consider additional improvements to the Cove and throughout the Port.
Recent improvements include a new public boat ramp, upgrades to Jetty Park campground, playground, and newly opened concession with Fishlips Restaurant as the operator. Some 200 small businesses ranging from marinas, restaurants, retail, and charter boats currently lease and operate at Port Canaveral.