In 1965, Manatee County bought 357 acres to launch a Barge Port and Industrial Port which was eventually named Port Manatee. That same year, the Florida legislature created the Manatee County Port Authority. Port Manatee’s official dedication ceremony took place in October 1970.
Even before its formal dedication ceremony, Port Manatee received its first vessel call, with 2,000 tons of Korean plywood being offloaded from the 576-foot-long M/V Fermland on Aug. 1, 1970. Eight-two days later, on Oct. 29, 1970, the formal dedication ceremony was held for the fledgling port.
1950 Community leaders looked south from the Piney Point ferry landing in the early 1950s and envisioned a thriving seaport to promote trade and commerce, provide a steady tax base for the community and create new jobs in Manatee County.
1965 Manatee County purchased 357 acres near Piney Point for $900 an acre to launch the Barge Port and Industrial Port, later renamed Port Manatee.
1965 Florida Legislature passes the Manatee County Port Authority Act, officially creating the port and its oversight board.
1970s Port Manatee primarily served the petroleum and phosphate industries. Petroleum tank farms and fertilizer warehouses dotted the landscape where little else existed.
Aug. 7, 1970
Aug. 7, 1970 The M/V Fermland was the first ship to dock at Port Manatee.
Oct. 29, 1970
Oct. 29, 1970 Official port dedication ceremony.
1971 Port Manatee hosts the largest ship to ever call on Tampa Bay at the time, the 732-foot Zenkoren Maru No. 5 carrying 12,000 tons of potash.
1980s Refined petroleum and phosphates are the port’s major commodities. Scrap metal, waste paper and plywood also play key roles in the port’s development.
1980s Berth 11 was built on the south side of the port creating opportunities for new tenants at Port Manatee
1980s Berth 12 provided key services for the reconstruction of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
1983 Eastern Portland Cement Company, owner of four 170-foot silos, begins importing cement at Port Manatee.
1989 Fresh Del Monte Produce begins operations at the port. The Port Manatee terminal becomes its second largest U.S. facility.
1990 Port Manatee awarded Foreign Trade Zone No. 169.
1990s Warehouse 6 was built for Del Monte’s facility.
1992 David L. McDonald PPM® named port director.
1993 – 2003
1993 – 2003 Regal Cruises sailed from the cruise terminal at Berth 9.
2001 Construction began on the Gulfstream Natural Gas system pipeline, bringing natural gas through Port Manatee.
2001 Internationally recognized seagrass transplant project began, resulting in 25 acres of new seagrass meadows in Tampa Bay.
2003 Manbirtee Key transformed into a bird refuge in partnership with Gulfstream Natural Gas System and Audubon of Florida.
2007 The 174,000 square-foot Warehouse 11, Port Manatee’s largest warehouse completed.
2007 Gottwald HMK 6407 Mobile Harbor Container Crane made its first pick, opening the door to a new era of container shipping at Port Manatee.
2009 Port Manatee signs strategic alliance with the Panama Canal becoming the 10th U.S. port to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Panama Canal Authority.
2009 The Manatee County Port Authority approves the first phase of the port’s $750 million master plan. The plan calls for a dedicated container terminal on the port’s south side adjacent to the expanded 1,584-foot Berth 12, a second mobile harbor container crane, new cold storage facilities, berth upgrades, land acquisitions and permits for a new container terminal on the port’s north side.
2009 The Port Manatee Encouragement Zone is established to attract major shippers and to entice the relocation of distribution facilities and support industries to a vast green field area neighboring the port.
2012 Carlos Buqueras named Port Manatee executive director.
2013 Port Manatee finished construction of the initial 10 acres of the first phase of the South Port Intermodal Terminal, a planned 52-acre containerized cargo and vehicle-handling facility. Also completed is the development of the 40-foot-draft Berth 14, which, combined with the adjacent Berth 12, provides 1600 feet of contiguous berthing area.
Today Port Manatee adds more than $3.9 billion annually in regional economic impact and supports more than 27,000 jobs.