Port Canaveral Statement on Emergency Relief Funding from State of Florida

3/17/2021
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Port Canaveral, FL – March 17, 2021 – Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis has recommended Florida’s seaports be provided a portion of the state’s COVID-19 federal relief funds to help them recover from the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. In a letter to Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson and Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Chris Sprowls, the Governor recommended nearly $260 million be provided to seaports from federal funds the state is expected to receive from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 signed into law recently.
 
“Port Canaveral is one of many seaports in Florida and around the country trying to manage the significant economic impact since cruise passenger travel has been shut down since last March,” said Port CEO Capt. John Murray. “We are facing significant and increasing financial challenges to sustain our port operations, support our ongoing business lines, and maintain a level of readiness for when and how the cruise industry may begin sailing again from Port Canaveral.”
 
“We thank Governor DeSantis and Florida Dept. of Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault for recognizing and supporting our critical mission as a gateway of commerce. We look forward to working with FDOT and our legislators on our financial needs as they work through the Governor’s requests and remain steadfastly committed to reviving the economic prosperity we have delivered for decades to our surrounding community and the State of Florida,” stated Capt. Murray.
 
Throughout the year-long pandemic, the Port has been continuously open and conducting operations every day keeping fuel, food and critical supplies moving throughout the state.  Until now, Port Canaveral, unlike other transportation entities in Florida, has had no access to or been eligible to receive COVID relief funds to help manage the pandemic’s impact on Port operations.
 
The loss of cruise operations at Port Canaveral due to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s shut down orders for cruise lines has had a profound financial impact on the port and the local and extended tourism community. Since March 2020, Port Canaveral’s 79% loss of operating revenues has led to a 43% reduction in its workforce, $10 million year-over-year reduction in operating expenses, and deferred more than $119 million in capital projects for two to five years. 
 
Without cruise operations at the Port, projected negative economic implications for the entire Central Florida region and the State of Florida overall are profound.  An economic downturn study recently completed by Philadelphia-based BREA (Business Research and Economic Advisors) revealed over $1.7 billion loss of total expenditures across Florida; 16,000 annualized jobs loss with over $560 million in lost wages; and $46 million loss in state and local tax revenues.
 
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 passed by Congress provided eligibility for U.S. seaports to receive emergency relief funding from the federal allocations provided to states and local governments to address the economic impact of the COVID pandemic.