~BOM director sketches port potential, roadblocks to Port Authority~

Published: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 10:02 AM.

“Everybody has to be a part of this, from (the Florida Department of Transportation) to the Corps,” Holt said. “It is a chicken-and-egg sort of thing. That’s the way these things work. We are trying to provide exposure for the (investors) and bulk operators to what is there.”

Port director Tommy Pitts, at the suggestion of Holt, said it would be time to re-energize past efforts to have the shipping channel dredged to authorized depth.

The job for the bank was to advise not just on bringing in an investor or company, but also in how to craft the deal. The bank is working on a “success-fee” basis, essentially putting much of the risk on the bank.

“But we like what we see,” Holt said.

The bank’s contract with the St. Joe Company is exclusive, Holt said, but the partnership to collaborate on port development between the company and Port Authority meant that at some point, once potential clients are ferreted out, the Port Authority must be part of the discussion.

Aspects of operation such as licensing, tax exemption financing, wharf and service fees fall under the gateway and the public authority overseeing that gateway, in this case the Port of Port St. Joe.

“You have a big part to play here,” Holt told Port Authority board members. “The question is if we can put a fish on the hook and what the fish would want.



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