Florida's Largest And Most Cargo Diverse Port

Port Tampa Bay Image
Port Tampa Bay Cargo Image

  • 33 million tons of cargo a year, 5000 acres
  • Diverse mix of bulk, break-bulk & containers
  • Huge and expanding local market
  • Energy products gateway for Central Florida
  • Major fertilizer export port
  • Shipyard-ship repair center
  • Major cruise homeport
  • Expanding container gateway for distribution centers & manufacturers
  • Diverse lines of business = solid financial performance: Fitch ‘A’ Rating & Stable Outlook
  • Over $17B in economic impact supporting more than 85,000 jobs in Central Florida

 The recent launch of new direct Asia services and the addition of new service connections with Mexico and Central America highlight the significance and growth of Port Tampa Bay’s container market. Home to almost half the state’s population of more than 21 million residents and welcoming a majority of the 126 million tourists who visit Florida every year, the Tampa Bay/Orlando I-4 Corridor has the largest concentration of distribution centers in the state. From this central location in the middle of the Florida peninsula, importers and exporters achieve significant savings in their truck delivery costs to serve the entire state, while also reaching into markets throughout the Southeast and beyond. For companies involved in retail distribution, e-commerce, food and beverage, and manufacturing, the demands for same-day service, tighter delivery windows, and shorter lead times are driving this shift in supply chain strategy. Importers and exporters benefit from significant truck cost savings, as well as reductions in their carbon footprint, as drivers can now make multiple shorter round trip deliveries per day thanks to Port Tampa Bay’s preferred location and proximity to Florida’s Distribution Hub – the I-4 Corridor. Together with container terminal operator partner Ports America, Port Tampa Bay is continuing to expand and upgrade facilities, having recently added 25 acres of paved storage, with construction about to begin on another 30 acres, bringing the total container footprint to 100 acres. A third deep-water berth is also being added, along with additional cranes and a new gate complex.

Refrigerated: Port Logistics Refrigerated Services’ 135,000 square foot cold storage facility is perfectly situated at the closest port to Florida’s hub for the grocery and food and beverage sector. Its advanced design includes on-site refrigerated fumigation services, a glycol refrigerant system, 148 reefer plugs, USDA and CBP inspection and lab areas, and over 6,300 racked pallet positions. Situated on 14 acres, with room for expansion, the adjacent 700 foot berth is served by two dedicated mobile harbor cranes, and is just a stone’s throw from the Port’s container terminal. Very competitive northbound backhaul trucking rates extend the Port’s reach to efficiently serve customers with perishable products beyond Florida to locations throughout the Southeast, Northeast, and Midwest. Ocean container service connections with Central America were recently enhanced with an increase to weekly frequency from Costa Rica by SeacatLine and the launch of a new weekly service from Honduras and Guatemala by Dole Ocean Cargo Express.

Tampa Bay FTZ: The Tampa Bay/I-4 Corridor Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) is designed to make companies in the Tampa Bay/I-4 Corridor region more competitive in the international marketplace. Administered by Port Tampa Bay, the FTZ helps companies involved in international trade excel in their particular industry by streamlining the process and minimizing the costs associated with qualified import, export, manufacturing, and distribution activities. The advantages of operating a foreign-trade zone site are significant and can enhance a company’s logistics strategy, corporate compliance policy, and cash flow. The benefits of the FTZ program are available to qualifying companies depending on their import and/or export activities. Additionally, these benefits extend to all modes of transportation, including for goods moving by ocean, air, rail, truck, and pipeline. In general, the FTZ provides long-term competitive advantages for companies that are importing and/or exporting a tangible product by complementing the companies’ international logistics supply chain strategy. As an example of the diversity of the Tampa Bay/I-4 Corridor FTZ, it currently includes companies that handle a wide range of commodities such as food grade products, heavy construction machinery, petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and steel. 

Environmental: As one of the first U.S. ports to create a dedicated environmental department in the 1970s, Port Tampa Bay is deeply committed to environmental sustainability and considers the environmental impact of all projects as we grow our business. Port Tampa Bay’s diverse environmental projects include shoreline stabilization, fish and wildlife habitat, nuisance species removal, wetland mitigation, waste cleanup, and water quality improvements. Port Tampa Bay and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) work together to protect important bird populations nesting on dredge disposal islands in Tampa Bay. The port and the USACE jointly maintain the deep shipping channels and berths that carry the goods and services that drive our regional economy. These ongoing dredging operations place sand and soil from channels in Tampa Bay on dredge disposal islands in Hillsborough Bay. These activities create habitat-resembling natural beaches, which attract thousands of beach-nesting birds each spring. BirdLife International and the National Audubon Society have recognized the terns, gulls, skimmers, and oystercatchers nesting on these islands as globally significant, emphasizing the importance of their protection, especially during the annual nesting season April 1st through August 31st. Port Tampa Bay also recognizes the importance of this habitat. Annual dredging activities are coordinated and scheduled to avoid impacts during the five-month bird-nesting season. Led by Port Tampa Bay, Migratory Bird Protection Committee Meetings are held twice per year to review the dredging schedule and design operations to avoid impacts to the nesting birds. The result has been a coordinated partnership with the purpose of providing protection to nesting migratory bird species while meeting the needs for navigation and harbor maintenance.

Safety & Security: Our workplace is the Bay and all of the maritime and upland operations that surround it—more than 5,000 acres, which must all be secured. Port Tampa Bay remains a leader in port safety and security initiatives, which are a top priority for the organization and our industry partners. The Operations and Security departments share responsibility for the port’s safety and training initiatives, which are designed to facilitate a culture of safety through education and outreach to internal and external stakeholders. These programs emphasize many aspects of safety, including the safe handling of all cargo. The port is a founding member of the Tampa Bay Harbor Safety and Security Committee (TBHSSC), which meets regularly to discuss a wide variety of safety issues. Port Tampa Bay is a certified Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) participating agency. The CTPAT designation is awarded to ports that meet high standards for terrorism prevention. The port security department works closely with federal, state, and local agencies to maintain a high level of security on both the land and waterside. The port contracts with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) for dedicated law enforcement services and maintains an internal security force. Combined, they offer around the clock protection to the port community. Port Tampa Bay is also recognized as a “StormReady” port by the National Weather Service. Several programs are in place to prepare for a storm event and other emergencies, such as hurricanes or other heavy-weather. The port regularly conducts tabletop exercises and hosts meetings with the Port Heavy Weather Advisory Group (PHWAG). It also maintains a ready-to-deploy mobile command vehicle, as well as a fullyfunctional operations site in Winter Haven, Florida. Each year, the port hosts the Tampa Bay Safety Summit, which draws regionally from the first responder community. The variety of topics is wide and includes prevention, response, mitigation, and recovery topics.

Breakbulk Capabilities: Florida’s expanding economy demands new building and construction projects, which rely on building materials to accomodate the growth. Port Tampa Bay has long been a critical gateway for supplying many of the materials needed. This includes steel, aluminum, bagged cement and other building materials, as well as project cargo and heavy lift. Among all of its break-bulk commodities, steel is the most significant, and Port Tampa Bay continues to be Florida’s largest steel port. Recent new business includes regular shipments of lumber delivered by break-bulk carrier Ultrabulk serving the home improvement and construction sectors. The port’s breakbulk capacity includes more than 6,000 feet of berth and nearly 500,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space and laydown area. The shipment of scrap metal is also an important steel-related outbound cargo moving via Port Tampa Bay. With an abundance of land and intermodal infrastructure improvements, the port has steadily increased its capacity and created innovative ways to bring break-bulk and other products to market.

Bulk Commodities: Since the discovery of phosphate in Central Florida in the late 1800s, bulk commodities have long been the foundation of Port Tampa Bay. Today, phosphate fertilizer and related products continue to be a cornerstone for export activity as Florida-produced fertilizer is shipped from Port Tampa Bay to agricultural markets around the globe to help the world grow the food it needs. The bulk sector remains Port Tampa Bay’s largest cargo tonnage segment across a diverse cargo base, and the port’s commitment to this sector is stronger than ever. That includes both dry bulk commodities and liquid bulk. Beyond phosphate and fertilizer, dry bulk commodities also include aggregates such as granite, limestone, cement, gypsum, and other related construction materials, which support West Central Florida’s booming building and construction market. Port Tampa Bay is also the energy gateway for all of West Central Florida, serving as the delivery point for almost 15 million tons a year of various petroleum related products, including gasoline for the region and aviation jet fuel for the region’s major airports. In fact, more than 43% of Florida’s petroleum is moved through Port Tampa Bay, and the public-private partnership to upgrade the REK Petroleum Terminal Complex has helped to solidify the port’s role as the region’s energy gateway for decades to come. Punctuating the diversity of the port’s liquid bulk cargo activity is the import and export of citrus juice concentrate.

Automobiles: Port Tampa Bay is well positioned to become a new option for auto manufacturers’ supply chain strategy by offering dedicated terminal facilities for new automobiles destined to Florida consumers. Given the proximity of Tampa to Mexico, one of the world’s largest automotive producing countries, as well as Tampa’s central location in the third largest state for vehicle purchases, cross-Gulf shortsea shipping delivers vehicles in a timely and cost efficient manner. In response to this market development, Port Tampa Bay has invested in terminal facilities dedicated to handling new automobiles. Delivering by shortsea transport avoids delays at the land-border and significantly reduces the potential for damages to vehicles.

Cruise: The cruise industry suffered a severe setback in 2020 due to COVID-19. While cruise lines paused service throughout the world, Port Tampa Bay worked closely with our cruise line partners, service providers and government agencies to establish protocols to ensure a safe and healthy environment for the return of cruising to Tampa. It cannot be denied that Port Tampa Bay is a consistent source of vacation travelers seeking exotic locations. Excellent terminal facilities; close proximity to numerous Caribbean destinations; proximity to one of the country’s top-rated airports; and a host of popular tourist attractions are some of the reasons Port Tampa Bay is a favorite point of departure for cruise vacationers. Not to mention, passengers can also enjoy an exceptional experience on the front or back end of their cruise vacations—with Tampa Bay’s vibrant nightlife, white sand beaches, outdoor activities, museums, restaurants, and proximity to six of the top ten theme parks in the nation, there is no shortage of things to see and do.

Real Estate: Port Tampa Bay is the largest Florida port by tonnage and land. Today, the port has more than 1,000 acres of industrially zoned land with deep-water access, with room to expand cargo facilities. Port Tampa Bay real estate sites are ideal for cargo handling operations, as well as manufacturing, logistics services, and warehousing/ transit shed operations. In addition to its vast supply of deep-water properties, the port also has available 265 acres of non-waterfront real estate, perfect for industrial and maritime-related use. Ground transportation, including CSX Rail and the interstate highway system, is easily accessible. These Port Tampa Bay sites located on Hookers Point, South Bay and Port Redwing, also provide convenient product transference by being strategically positioned at the intersection of major east-west and north-south shipping trade lanes. Moreover, with the addition of two new postPanamax container gantry cranes at the port’s container terminal, Port Tampa Bay continues to further diversify itself as it expands its global footprint. In recent years, the port has continued to diversify its portfolio at Port Redwing in southern Hillsborough County. To service the more than 50 acres available at Port Redwing and 135 acres at South Bay, the port has made available for a month by month a common area to facilitate the periodic transfer of goods for our off water front tenants. The area is served by the Big Bend Channel, which was recently deepened to 43 feet and widened to 250 feet through an innovative “P-5” funding coalition of five entities: the Federal government through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the State of Florida through the Florida Department of Transportation, Port Tampa Bay, Mosaic, and Tampa Electric-an Emera company.