Goal of aggressive timeline is permit in six months

Published: Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 10:03 AM.

 However, the Haas Center, which researches and analyzes economic trends across Northwest Florida, agreed to undertake a study at far less – under $20,000 – to try to pinpoint the value of the port as a developed and operational port.

Rod Lewis said the study would focus on seven basic elements, including an overview of the history of the Port of Port St. Joe; the tonnage of material committed to the port through the St. Joe LOIs; the $5 million in Genesse-Wyoming rail improvements St. Joe was contracting for and the rail line jobs that work would generate; three other projects that are on the burner and would become more viable with a developed port; and facilities and infrastructure built on regional airports due to facilitate the movement of goods in and out of a developed port.

 “You are building on a core foundation built up over time,” said Lewis in referencing millions in infrastructure the port has acquired in significant part through state and federal funding for ports. “That is at the core of what we are looking at.”

Raffield said another selling point for the Port of Port St. Joe was location, its relative proximity to an expanded Panama Canal in relation to other Florida ports as well as markets to the north and the access to rail and highways.

Given the level of goods shipped by truck and shipped through the Panama Canal, reduced fuel costs to ship into and truck out of the Port of Port St. Joe would be advantageous.

Lewis said a draft of the Haas Center study could be provided in four to five weeks with an aim at having a completed study in time for the state legislative session.

Meetings of the Florida Legislature begin in December with the session beginning in February.

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