Last week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., toured Port Everglades as that port continues its expansion efforts.
Currently Port Everglades is tackling various aspects of its expansion plans which its backers insist will create 7,000 jobs and support around 135,000 jobs across the state. The expansion includes adding five berths, tying rail to the port and widening and deepening the channel by 50 feet.
So far, the Florida East Coast Railway has completed its Intermodal Container Transfer Facility to expand rail operations. The five new berths and deepening and widening the channels are currently in the design stage.
Rubio toured the port on Wednesday and stressed the important role it plays in South Florida’s economy.
“Port Everglades is a hub of international trade and travel, and an economic powerhouse for South Florida,” Rubio said. “It was great to hear about the progress being made to ensure that the infrastructure at Port Everglades is able to continue to keep pace with the increasing size of modern transoceanic ships. I will continue to advocate for the modernization of Florida’s port infrastructure, including at Port Everglades which is linked to $28 billion in annual economic activity and more than 200,000 jobs.”
In the meantime, earlier this month, Port Everglades celebrated a new record for containerized cargo volumes with the port handling 1,076,893 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs ) in its 2017 fiscal year which closed at the end of September. That cargo total is up 4 percent from last year and is 1.5 percent higher than the record set in 2015.
Port Everglades also saw the total of cruise and ferry passengers increase to almost 3.9 million passengers, an increase of 1 percent in the closed fiscal year. The port also saw an increase of 1 percent in the amount of petroleum barrels move through it during that period
Steve Cernak, the chief executive and port director of Port Everglades, weighed in why the port was seeing increased traffic on several fronts.
“The volumes of refrigerated produce coming into Florida through Port Everglades from Central America is significant,” Cernak said. “It represents more than half of all perishable cargo that arrives in Florida by ocean.
“Apparel, tile and beverages also rank among our top commodities,” Cernak added. “Notably, we are seeing growth in machinery and automobile parts as the number of vehicles being shipped in and out of the port also increases.”
Even as operating revenue remains steady, the port impacts more than 220,000 jobs across the state. Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief highlighted the important role the port played in the region’s economy earlier this month.
“Port Everglades is an economic generator for Broward County and Florida that delivers financial stability and jobs in our community,” Sharief said. “This record year is a positive indication of Broward’s commitment to the businesses that choose to locate here.”