Port Manatee receives security funding

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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- As the closest port to the expanding Panama Canal, the increasing amount of trade activity to come to the Suncoast's Port Manatee presents a need for more capacity and security.

"We're actually part of a global supply chain; so for us to ensure the safety of the community, we have to ensure the safety of our port—both from what we let in it, but also we have to make sure that what comes via waters is also secure."

With FEMA's $1.8 million grant, the port will move forward on three key projects.

Currently, most trucks must come in through the north entrance where the main access control building is located. The north is the only entrance with multiple lanes, and the only location to process cargo and vehicle data.

But now, the grant will allow for an important modernization of the south entrance—including more lanes and another place to process vehicle data and cargo.

"As our business expands, it will allow us to double our capacity in getting traffic in and out of the port much more efficiently."

Officials will also update technology with a purchase of a new geographic information system to manage traffic patterns.

With new and updated equipment, the port's emergency communication center will be able to better handle emergency events that may not only affect the port, but the region as a whole.

"This particular add-on will actually allow us to now start bringing in the county and the other emergency responders to fully utilize some of those capabilities to support any kind of incident that we would have here."

Port Manatee will receive their official award letter by the end of August. They have two years complete their projects.