The Port of Port St. Joe has been a staple of this roundup for several years.
2014 should have a lot to say about whether the port remains prominent on the list into the future.
Nearly everything that occurred over the past year is foundation for the coming year and the belief it will be a tipping point for the port.
While the Port Authority of Port St. Joe wrestled with a lack of funds for operations and a lawsuit that threatens possession of the port’s barge terminal and uplands, much of what has happened the past year was setting the table for 2014.
The case for dredging the federally-authorized shipping channel took shape as the St. Joe Company, the Port Authority’s formal collaborators in developing the port, entered into a pair of Letters of Intent with energy companies to ship wood pellets through the Port of Port St. Joe.
Eastern Shipbuilding is still paying a lease for bulkhead and land on the old mill site and is expected to expand to Gulf County at some point.
One other customer provided the Port Authority with a letter of interest to ship aggregate and sand through the port.
In turn, the Port Authority received the grant funds and embarked on the formal work to submit a dredge permit application to state and federal agencies by early summer.
And a study to analyze a potential return on investment from a developed and operational port was underway to put before state legislators during the 2014 session of the Florida Legislature.
The timeline is critical for the Port of Port St. Joe.
Those LOIs hinge on a path that will bring dredging of the ship channel by the end of 2014.
That path in significant measure hinges on the approval of the dredge permit application this year and, most importantly, an appropriation of public dollars to dredge.
As positive as the developments of 2013 were for the Port of Port St. Joe, 2014 looms large in the future of job creation and economic development of an entire region.