Port Panama City has an annual impact of about $1.4 billion on the state’s economy and a direct business impact in Bay County of more than $544 million, according to a report issued on behalf of the port.
“The $1.4 billion in economic activity is an amazing number for a port that is smaller than Miami or Jacksonville,” said Port Executive Director Wayne Stubbs.
Martin Associates, of Lancaster, Pa., released the port-commissioned impact report this month.
According to the report, about $43 million is generated in state and local taxes. Last year, the port moved 1.4 million tons of cargo.
The report also notes 10,863 jobs in Florida are a result of the Port Panama City, including 1,163 jobs directly related to the port.
“There are not 10,000 people here at the port handling cargo,” said Stubbs, adding the figure was based on information from companies and government entities that provide services to the port.
“There are a lot of government agencies involved. There are a lot of shipping professionals involved, customs brokers, tug boat operators, pilots, captains,” Stubbs said. “It goes on and on.”
Besides the 1,163 direct jobs at the port, there are an additional 8,248 referred to as “user” jobs that result from activity at the port, which includes businesses at the port.
“That captures the employees at Berg and Flex Steel Pipe and Oceaneering,” said Stubbs, referring to the private businesses with facilities at the port.
A total of 648 indirect jobs also were attributed to port activity.
The total in wages and benefits for those in the area adds up to more than $30 million.
Speaking at his office inside the port office across U.S. 98 from Gulf Coast State College, Stubbs said Port Panama City has a “disproportionate” impact on the community.
“Because we provide so many services to manufacturing companies and I am proud of that,” Stubbs said. “I think that the best use of a port is to serve manufacturing companies and attract manufacturing companies to the area. Handling cargo is certainly worthwhile and important in this area, but the best economic benefit is when you can attract manufacturing jobs to your region.”
In November, the Panama City Port Authority expanded its geographical footprint when it broke ground on a 150,000-square-foot, $6 million distribution warehouse on U.S. 231 in north Panama City. Cost for infrastructure in and around the building site, including the building itself, is estimated at $11 million. The port warehouse has the potential for an additional 100,000-square-foot expansion.
The port also is looking to attract more container cargo, including fruit products from Mexico and South America.
“There is a strong trend of banana importers moving away from refrigerated ships to using refrigerated containers,” Stubbs said. “That bodes well for us having a chance of attracting some of that business here.”