Just 11 days after signing a history-making pact with the Panama Canal Authority, Port Manatee’s good fortune was stroked again – this time by Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s signature on a bill exempting Developments of Regional Impact (DRI) within three miles of the port’s boundary.

“The governor’s support creates huge momentum to advance Port Manatee’s future in containerized shipping,” said David L. McDonald PPM®, the port’s executive director. “Sen. Mike Bennett and Reps. Ron Reagan and Bill Galvano, understand the benefits this offers the port and the region to bring-in new businesses and create new jobs and we thank them for their leadership.”

Prior to the governor’s action, each of Florida’s 14 deepwater seaports only benefited from state DRI exemptions for developments within their physical boundaries. The new law extends port DRI exemption privileges to within a three-mile radius of each port, sparing qualified developments the years-long process of permitting and speeding new projects forward.

In Florida, development projects reaching certain thresholds regarding acreage, square footage, land use and parking spaces can trigger a DRI review. The process is lengthy and includes reviews by local, regional and state planning agencies.

Gov. Crist’s authorization of the new DRI exemption law further enhances the port’s ability to attract new industries and distribution centers to the new Port Manatee Encouragement Zone – a 3,700-acre region of land, locally incentivized for commercial development.

The governor’s action follows the May 19th passage of a Manatee County ordinance exempting 50% of local transportation impact fees on developments within the county and the encouragement zone. Other Manatee County economic incentives provide qualified developments further impact fee relief of up to 100%.

Recently, Port Manatee signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Panama Canal Authority to share information and participate in joint marketing efforts to mutually increase business opportunities for each organization. The two-year accord elevates Port Manatee’s profile within shipping circles to attract containerized cargo to the port and new developments to the encouragement zone.