Port commissioners hone outreach campaign

Published: Thursday, September 5, 2013 at 10:09 AM.

“We are going to get a win if we get this channel dredged,” Raffield said. “But without the channel dredged to 35 feet, my gut feeling is the port will never happen. And if we don’t have the support of the (government), how do we ask the small guy for support.”

The port, several commissioners noted, is dealing with a chicken-egg dilemma.

Until port development comes, a return on investment is elusive. But until the investment arrives, specifically to dredge the channel, the odds for development remain elusive.

And dredging will only happen with state and federal government support, both in dollars and in speeding the permitting for the channel along.

“This is a dire need priority,” Raffield said. “This is not about Port St. Joe. This is a regional conflict that could bring thousands and thousands of jobs.”

Raffield identified an upcoming regional meeting of the Florida Chamber of Commerce to be held in Port St. Joe in November as an opportunity to bring economic development stakeholders and regulatory agencies to the table to determine a path ahead and a web of assistance for the port.

Raffield further said that all local stakeholders, from the cities to the county to the Chamber to the EDA to business owners to St. Joe need to join at the table.

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