Florida ports seek federal money as virus losses mount

(Panama City Port Authority)
(Panama City Port Authority)(WJHG)
Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 10:45 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (NSF) - The Florida Ports Council says Congress needs to allocate $3.5 billion for maritime businesses across the country as talks continue on an economic-stimulus package because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter Monday to U.S. Senate leaders, Florida Ports Council President Doug Wheeler pointed to an economic analysis from Martin Associates, which projects the virus can be tied to a potential loss of 169,000 jobs related to cargo- and passenger-ship industries in Florida.

“A survey and review of cargo and passenger activity at Florida’s seaports indicated that COVID-19 will likely result in the loss of 5.6 million tons of liquid bulk cargo, 1.6 million tons of dry bulk cargo, and a loss of 4.9 million passengers at our seaports,” Wheeler wrote.

Overall, the economic impact of the virus on the ports approaches $23 billion, according to the Martin Associates analysis. Last week, Wheeler released an editorial pushing for congressional assistance for the state’s ports. In Monday’s letter, Wheeler said stimulus money could be used for emergency response, cleaning, staffing, worker retention, paid leave, purchasing protective health equipment, debt service payments and reducing lost revenue.

Copyright 2020 News Service of Florida. All rights reserved.

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