The shipping news: behind the scenes of a Manatee County economic engine
The idea for a shipping port in Manatee County goes back to at least 1950.
Some 50 years later Port Manatee is a thriving economic engine for Manatee County. Considered a full-service port facility, which means it offers ship repair and fabrication, in addition to cargo services, Port Manatee had operating revenues of $13.72 million in fiscal 2017. That’s up 25.5% from $10.21 million in 2015. In fiscal 2017, the port also posted record numbers for container volumes and one of the best years for total cargo tons moved, according to Port Manatee data.
Port Manatee, using the industry standard of twenty-foot equivalent units, recorded 39,726 TEUs in fiscal 2017 — up 52% from 26,210 TEUS in 2016. The 2017 TEUs tally was an increase of 31% over the previous all-time high, 30,431 TEUs in 2010. In addition, in fiscal 2017 the port handled 363,195 containerized tons, up 39% from 261,094 containerized tons in 2016.
One of the largest of the 14 deepwater seaports in Florida, Port Manatee is also a commercial real estate force, with one million square feet of office space and 207,000 square feet of refrigerated warehouse space. It sits on 1,100 acres in northeast Manatee County, and has some 5,000 acres of contagious land available for expansion.
Goods that come through the port’s docks cover a wide gamut, from orange juice, bananas and melons to wood pulp, steel, cement and fertilizer. The port, according to its annual report, has the highest capacity of on-dock cold storage for high-value perishables in Florida. It also handled more than six million barrels of imported petroleum products in 2017.