TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Port Tampa Bay President Paul Anderson proclaimed the overall health of the port as good at the annual State of the Port address. Still, Anderson says there is room for growth.
Bulk shipping at the port is up. But, cruise ship passengers are down slightly, by about 2 percent since last year. “We have some of the most available land to grow this port of any port in our nation,” Anderson said.
Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Kathy Castor believes some of that growth can come from expanded dealings with Cuba. She’s sponsored a bill in Congress to lift the trade embargo.
“Once that happens, I think that Port Tampa Bay and this community will be able to supply telecommunications equipment, construction materials, agricultural equipment, so it’s important that they build the relationships now so we are prepared for those jobs and that business,” Castor said.
Anderson believes Port Tampa Bay is ready for expanded Cuba trade. “Port Tampa Bay has great infrastructure. We are fully prepared to support our customers who will be the ones doing business with Cuba,” he said. “We are prepared for Cuba. It’s when Cuba decides to open up trade with US companies.”
Former Florida Governor Bob Martinez believes even if the embargo is lifted, trade opportunities with Cuba will come slowly. “When it comes to infrastructure, roads and water and sewer lines, that’s going to take government resources, which they don’t have any money. Still, with that said you can’t just not do anything and be ready for the eventuality that something will occur,” Martinez said.