Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Does the Port have a Future in Pensacola?

Yesterday, Rick’s Blog reported that “the Port of Pensacola’s revenue was down 41 percent last year”. This revenue number is not uncommon for the port; it has seen a down-turn in business over the past few years.

So, if the port is not making any money, should the city keep it open?

Commenting on Rick’s post about the loss of port revenue, former UWF Finance Professor C.C. Elebash makes the case for closing the port.

Elebash argues, “The Port of Pensacola has been doomed for 50 years. Starting about 1960, containers have become the preferred vehicle for international shipping. There has been a long-term trend towards bigger ports and bigger ships. Our port is too small to compete.”

He suggests the port should be closed and “converted to non-industrial uses with public access to the waterfront.”

This sounds like an attractive option for a city property that is not making any money. The port’s property could be prime location for hotels, restaurants and condos that would provide the city with an increased tax-base and jobs.

Thankfully, Port Director Clyde Mathis weighed-in on the subject by commenting on Rick’s post. Mathis doesn’t deny that the port is not making money, but he blames the decrease in revenue on the down-turn in the housing market and he sees reasons to be optimistic about the port’s future.

Mathis explains,”We move products that supply the local construction industry and we all know the current state of this industry. We continue to hold down our expenses while this market is down. We are adding some diversification to our operations, the first of which will begin moving in a few weeks. We are also moving forward with the community on alternative use possibilities.”

There might be reasons to be optimistic about the port’s future. It could always attract new tenants once the economy comes back to life. Maybe the port would get more tenents if Pensacola's citizens welcomed them.

Now that both sides have made their case, what do you think? Should the city keep the port open? Should they close it and open it up to private development? I want you to have your say.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes. This area would in no doubt support a day cruise for a dinner ship and casino. Easy!