Port Panama City's Intermodal Distribution Center is ready to house new industry.
One 54-acre site on the IDC property, located on U.S. 231, recently became the fourth in the region to receive certification through Gulf Power's Florida First Sites program, aimed at attracting new industry to the area.
Officials with the Panama City Port Authority, Gulf Power and the Bay County Economic Development Alliance are now working to market the site to potential clients, specifically in the manufacturing sector.
Becca Hardin, interim director of the EDA, said the port and its facilities are an integral focus in a new marketing effort launched by the organization to put Bay County on the radar of companies seeking to relocate or expand.
"What I've been doing is identifying assets in our community that set us apart from the competition, and right there at the very top is the port," Hardin said during a presentation to the Port Authority at a meeting Thursday. "Not many communities can say they have an international port that does business around the world."
In particular, Hardin said the EDA is targeting automotive companies in the Southeast that also conduct business in Mexico and could utilize the port facilities for manufacturing, assembling and shipping products. The port's certified site is served by rail and has direct access to the port.
The site is the second to be certified in Bay County, along with the St. Joe Co.'s Venture Crossings development at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. Before receiving its industrial site certification, the site was thoroughly analyzed by McCallum Sweeney Consulting, an international site selection firm.
Hardin and the EDA has already showcased the property, and is currently finishing a project proposal for a heavy manufacturing company at that location.
"The fact that this site is certified just elevates us that much higher above the competition," Hardin said. "I'm really optimistic we're going to see some great things happen together."
Overall, the Port Authority owns 250 acres at the Intermodal Distribution Center, and is in the process of deciding what to do with the undeveloped property, which would require extensive work to fill in wetland areas.
The center also has two distribution facilities, a 60,000-square-foot center used by FedEx Ground and a 150,000-square-foot warehouse, half of which has been leased by Panama City logistics company Aadvantage northAmerican. The port has plans to expand its warehousing and construct a rail transfer facility.
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