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FY 19 Port Infrastructure Development Grant Announcement

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Remarks As Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
FY 2019 Port Infrastructure Development Grant Announcement
Port of Miami, FL
Friday, February 14, 2020

Thank you, Juan.  I am so pleased to see Congressman Diaz-Balart, Governor DeSantis Congresswoman Shalala, and Mayor Gimenez with us today.  Thank you for joining us as we announce the first ever Port Infrastructure Development grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation.  I want to mention, in particular, Congressman Diaz-Balart who worked very hard on bringing this program to reality.  Indeed, it is not an exaggeration to say that if it were not for his perseverance and foresight, this program would not be giving the funds we are announcing today. 

Today, the Department is pleased to award more than $287 million to ports in 15 cities across 11 states.  These grants are being made at the right time to help ports fully participate in – and contribute to – the strong economic growth that has taken place since the President was elected.

Thanks to this Administration’s pro-growth tax policies and regulatory reform, more than 7 million jobs have been created nationwide since 2017 resulting in the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years. And thanks to the pro-growth leadership of Governor DeSantis, 630,000 of those jobs have been created in Florida!  African-American and Hispanic unemployment rates have reached the lowest levels on record.  Take home pay is increasing, putting median household income at the highest level ever.  Home ownership in Florida is up 3 percent, and new business formation is up 16 percent in the Sunshine state.  Per capita income in Florida has risen 7 percent to $47,000!  

In addition, important new trade agreements have also been signed by President Trump that will increase trade and create even more opportunities.  They include the Phase One Trade Agreement with China and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Much of that trade will come through our nation’s ports because approximately 72 percent of U.S.–international trade by weight – valued at close to $2 trillion – moves by water.  So, ports are critical to our country’s economic vitality and job creation.  Modernizing and improving our ports will pay dividends now and in the future.  Investing in ports is investing in prosperity.

The Port Infrastructure Development Grants being announced today align with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s top three priorities. The first is safety.  The second is rebuilding and refurbishing our country’s critical infrastructure. And the third is preparing for the future by engaging with emerging technologies to address legitimate public concerns about safety, security, and privacy, without hampering innovation.

The Port Infrastructure Development grants provide planning, operational and capital financing, and project management assistance to improve port capacity and operations.  Of the 15 projects that are being awarded grants, six are located in Opportunity Zones. These zones were created by this Administration to help revitalize economically distressed areas by incentivizing private investment.

Many in this room will be pleased to know that Florida is getting the lion’s share of the Port Infrastructure Development grants this year.  PortMiami is the beneficiary of the largest single grant, of $43.9 millionPort Canaveral will be receiving a $14.1 million grant.  For a total of $58 million!

The grant to PortMiami has two components.


The first is to repair pavement, install drainage, and build storm water retention facilities.

The second component is for the construction of a Fumigation and Cold Chain Processing Center, on an off-port site.  This facility will support the safe flow of agricultural and food products free of pests and diseases, domestically and internationally.  Currently, perishables offloaded at PortMiami are transported to ports in the Northeast United States for inspection and treatment, and then trucked all the way back to South Florida.  This investment allows the whole process to take place locally.

Together, these improvements will make the port more productive and establish a more secure barrier against imported pests and diseases.  This will both protect the environment and reduce transportation costs.  These enhancements will increase PortMiami’s competitiveness so it can remain an important gateway for trade with the Caribbean and Central and South America.

And because PortMiami is located in an Opportunity Zone, this federal funding will encourage private sector investment and job creation in the surrounding communities.

The grant to Port Canaveral will help return a functionally obsolete pier to full operation with increased efficiency and increased resilience to withstand storm impacts.

The $58 million in grants will benefit Florida’s consumers, farmers and industry.  And they will help Florida maintain the economic expansion currently taking place under Governor DeSantis’ leadership.

In addition to Florida, other states receiving grants include Alaska, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Mississippi, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin.  The benefits of these investments in these economic gateways will be felt nation-wide. – community after community, and region after region.

So, congratulations, again, to PortMiami, Port Canaveral, and South Florida.  These investments will help this region meet the demand generated by increased trade and economic growth for the future.  The Department looks forward to working with you to further improve the safety and productivity of our Nation’s ports.