During a September visit to Port Panama City (Fla.), executive director Alex King said his is regional port that employs 75 and handles about 340 ship calls annually is not a rival to New York/New Jersey, Los Angeles/Long Beach, or Houston.

“We provide port facilities to promote trade and support industrial development in this region,” he said. “We just stay in our lane, but we’re watching what’s going on around the country and around the world.”

That said, the port has a strategic development plan that’s updated every five years. “Port infrastructure is very expensive,” King said.

Now comes word the port it has been awarded an $11.25 million Port Infrastructure Development Program grant from Marad for the expansion of its East Terminal. The project will include a new 200,000-sq.-ft. warehouse to increase cargo handling capacity.

“I want to thank the amazing port authority staff and all those who worked tirelessly on this grant application. Thank you to our board of directors for their strategic vision and support throughout this application process,” King said in a statement. “I also would like to thank our federal, state, and local leaders for their tremendous support as we develop the East Terminal into a world class port facility.”

The port said the East Terminal Expansion Project will create 337 jobs, $30 million in personal income and local consumption, and $2.7 million in state and local taxes. This will enable the port to add to the estimated 11,000 jobs currently supported, $1.6 billion economic impact, and over two million tons of cargo handled annually.

Port Panama City invested $66 million on the first phase of The East Terminal, which began operations in 2020. The expansion included the construction of a 260,000-sq.-ft. warehouse, improved road and rail development, a modern bulkhead, and the deepening of the east channel and turning basin.

With the completion of phase one, the port is now embarking on the second phase of development of the East Terminal.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to expand operations at Port Panama City, which is committed to increasing cargo activity that will foster economic growth and create good paying jobs not only in Bay County but in the northwest Florida region,” said King.

The $28.7 million East Terminal Phase Two Expansion Project aims to add more covered storage capacity, enhance multimodal infrastructure, create market access for future growth, and develop a more resilient supply chain.

“In the next 10 years we want to get to three million tons of cargo,” King told WorkBoat.


Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.