Installation of security cameras at the North Gate access control complex is among efforts proceeding at Port Manatee with a boost from federal grant funding.

PALMETTO, Florida – Port Manatee is receiving more than $1 million in federal grant funding to bolster protection against cyberthreats, upgrade the port’s wireless security network and complete a perimeter fencing project, port officials said today [Thursday, Aug. 12].

The fiscal 2021 allocation of $1,055,843 under the Port Security Grant Program of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency brings to more than $14 million the total federal security grant support received by Manatee County’s seaport since 2005, according to David St. Pierre, Port Manatee’s director of public safety and security.

“Port Manatee is extremely thankful for the continuing support of FEMA in advancing our mission of providing leading-edge safety and security throughout port property and neighboring waters,” St. Pierre said. “In light of the worldwide increase in cyberattacks, we are particularly grateful to be able to furnish greater protection against such dangers.”

The most recent federal award, supplemented by a port match of $351,947 to cover 25 percent of total costs, enables advancement of three projects:

  • A comprehensive cybersecurity risk assessment and mitigation measures to ensure integrity of the port’s computer systems, fortifying them against potential attack;
  • Enhancements to the port’s wireless security network, including cameras and access control infrastructure; and
  • Completion of a project to provide 3 1/2 miles of fencing along the perimeter of port property.
  • In addition, Port Manatee and its users expect to benefit from another fiscal 2021 federal port security grant – providing Manatee County’s North River Fire District with $73,237 – supporting fireboat protection in waters off the port.

“As Port Manatee handles record levels of cargo activity, it is imperative that we stay at the forefront of safety and security,” said Carlos Buqueras, Port Manatee’s executive director. “We are highly appreciative of the ongoing federal support we receive to protect critical infrastructure and, moreover, the people who keep commerce on the move.”

Reggie Bellamy, chairman of the Manatee County Port Authority, commented, “In fulfilling its role as Central and Southwest Florida’s preferred gateway for global commerce, Port Manatee must provide a safe and secure operational environment. We are most grateful to the federal government for its vital partnership in facilitating our ability to do so.”

Located “Where Tampa Bay Meets the Gulf of Mexico,” Port Manatee is the closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the expanded Panama Canal, with 10 40-foot-draft berths serving container, bulk, breakbulk, heavylift, project and general cargo customers. The self-sustaining port generates more than $3.9 billion in annual economic impacts while providing for more than 27,000 direct and indirect jobs, all without benefit of local property tax support.

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