Panama City Port Authority looks to expand to Paper Mill facility

Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 10:40 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - For years, Port Panama City has stood as a beacon for large shipments of cargo moving in and around the area and officials say there is still more to come.

“The port needs to continue to grow to remain competitive, attract new maritime activity, and remain a busy port and continue to provide a lot of activity,” Alex King, Panama City Port Authority Executive Director.

Following the recent Panama City Port Authority Board Meeting, there are plans for an expansion and it could be part of a property that many are familiar with.

“A 27-acre parcel of land that’s adjacent to the Port’s East Terminal,” King said.

The parcel of land in question is located at the site of the former WestRock Paper Mill. The port already owns 43 acres in that area but is looking to expand.

“We plan to take the east terminal, add an additional warehouse, extend the berth 600 feet to have two berths and also the open storage area, we have now. Part of that will move onto that option property to keep handling other cargos that could move through there such as lumber,” King said.

In 2016, there was a master real estate purchase agreement between the port and WestRock. There was also an option to buy this additional parcel. If it all comes together the port could add several high-paying jobs in the near future.

“As it expands the terminal operations and more port activity, it will add jobs over time, it will add good-paying jobs,” King said.

The port authority is about to start the next phase of its master plan, which is a year-long process. Part of that plan includes, “That option land could also support possibly local owned port manufacturing,” King said.

King says they hope to use this land to grow the overall port activity for cargo operations.

Officials also say inflation is impacting the shipping business. Importers and exporters are paying more to move cargo.

From the global container lines being out of balance due to COVID to all the eastbound tonnage coming out of China, every time they have a lockdown, it throws things out of balance. Which ultimately delays shipments into the U.S.

However, utilizing break bulk carriers, which are traditional carriers that haul paper and steel, allows more commodities to flow into break bulk shipping.

Officials say through this, development opportunities are being created in Panama City through the port.

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