WATCH: Former Longtime Port Commissioner Mac McLouth Speaks on the State, Future of Port Canaveral
By Space Coast Daily // June 26, 2022
SPACE COAST DAILY TV SPECIAL PRESENTATION
WATCH: Former nine-time Canaveral Port Authority Commissioner Mac McLouth stopped by the Space Coast Daily–Friday Night Locker Room Mike Erdman Cadillac Studios to share an update on the state of Port Canaveral.
BREVARD COUNTY • PORT CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – Former nine-time Canaveral Port Authority Commissioner Mac McLouth stopped by the Space Coast Daily–Friday Night Locker Room Mike Erdman Cadillac Studios to share an update on the state of Port Canaveral.
For more than 55 years, McLouth has made it his life’s mission to shape Port Canaveral into the nation’s port, and he has done an excellent job in transforming Port Canaveral from a sleepy cargo port into a powerhouse destination for cruise ship passengers, as well as the go-to port for cargo in Central Florida.
With more than 4 million cruise ship passengers a year, Port Canaveral is now the second busiest port in the world and McLouth is confident that in five years it can surpass Miami’s five million passengers to garner the Number One spot.
McLouth knows what he is talking about since he has served on the port commission nine times.
McLouth’s admiration for and dedication to the Port and its environs began in 1966 when as a Boy Scout leader he led his troop on a weekend camping trip to the recently opened Jetty Park.
“I remember being so impressed with the beauty and serenity of the place,” he said. “Being an engineer and working as I did in growth and development, I thought it would be wonderful if we could find a way to ensure that this place could escape development and always be kept as a park for people to use.”
A recent transplant at the time, in 1962 he had moved to Brevard from Minneapolis when Pam American recruited the civil engineer as superintendent of industrial hygiene, in charge of monitoring the effects of toxins and pollution.
‘I Got Hooked On the Place’
While attending the University of Minnesota, McLouth had become active in the Republican Party and he desired to continue with politics after moving to Brevard, but the problem he encountered was finding many Republicans in the area during those years.
McLouth had originally thought of helping a Republican become port commissioner, but there was nary a member of the party who wanted to run for the position. McLouth took matters into his own hands.
“I wanted to run for something and remembering the Jetty Park weekend, I decided to run for port commissioner,” said McLouth. “I got hooked on the place, so I campaigned hard because I wanted to make a difference.”
Beyond the natural beauty of Jetty Park, McLouth saw amazing untapped potential at the Port.
“There wasn’t much business going on, just some orange juice, newsprint and petroleum,” said McLouth, who vowed to help reshape the Port.
He not only got elected port commissioner once but went on for eight straight terms, serving the Port in the position for the next 32 years before resigning in 1996 to become its director of marketing, a job he held for four years before his segue as executive director for another four.
After his stint as executive director, McLouth got elected for a ninth term and served the Port until 2011. Although he is not currently in office, he attends all Port meetings.
“I’ve kept very active as a community leader,” he said.
Among the major accomplishments in his career, McLouth is proud that in 1971, he was integral in doubling the size of the Port, by working to obtain a Federal Economic Development Act grant and Corps of Engineers permits to develop the western turning basin.
“Without it, we would have been dead in the water,” he quipped.
When McLouth first became involved with the Port more than half a century ago, about 2/3 of the total revenue needed for the facility was derived from taxes. That wouldn’t do, he said, and he helped turn the figure around 32 years ago, making the Port self-sufficient.
Arguably his greatest accomplishment and one that floated the Port’s profitability was his influence in marketing the Port to the blossoming cruise ship industry.
As early as 1967, he was pitching Port Canaveral as the “outlet to the sea” for then-new Walt Disney World, just four years after S/S Yarmouth, the first cruise ship to use Port Canaveral, took off with a whopping 402 passengers for a sold-out Labor Day jaunt to Nassau.
Premier, the first cruise line to call Port Canaveral a home port, was soon followed by giants such as Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Carnival, and, of course, Disney. Additional lines such as Cunard also use the port on a regular basis.
He also never forgot Jetty Park, which first inspired him. Along with the Port, Jetty Park has matured and is now considered one of the Space Coast’s top recreational spots, with 4.5 acres of beach, 210-site campground, boardwalk, bait and tackle shop and a refreshment center.
At the opening of the channel into the Atlantic Ocean by Jetty Park now sits one of the most-loved features of the facility, the 1,200-foot Malcolm E. McLouth Fishing Pier, named in Mac’s honor in 1995.
And reflecting on all that has transpired during his remarkable life he said, “I feel blessed to have lived 90 years in the United States of America, the world’s most productive, free society. Our forefathers created this unique form of “government by the people and for the people.”
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