Tampa's diverse port stays busy, even during pandemic

Tampa’s port may have seemed emptier lately, without all of those cruise ships steaming in and out. But in other ways, it’s been business as usual.

Port Tampa Bay president and CEO Paul Anderson says things at the “largest and most diverse port complex in the state of Florida” are busy.

The fuel terminals at the port handle tankers delivering almost half of the fuel in the state of Florida, while the container port has landed deals with three new Asian container shippers.

Port Tampa shipping containers

“We also have a very diverse mix of other commercial products: Aggregate, cement, road-building materials, steel, lumber. We also import orange juice and automobiles,” Anderson explained. “Currently our cruise business , as everybody knows, is not in operation. We hope that will come back soon. But when you add all those together, we are the largest port by tonnage and geography in the state of Florida.”

The port covers a sprawling 5,500 acres of port-owned land and private terminals, from downtown Tampa south to TECO’s Big Bend Power Plant in Apollo Beach.

Port Tampa

 Anderson says that unique setup benefits the region in a variety of ways.

“What is powerful for Port Tampa Bay and our community, as a job creator, is the very large amount of land on deep water with interstate highway access and also rail,” he added. “Plug in the TECO power plant right at the edge of our property, it becomes a very powerful dynamic on how to grow commerce, buildings, logistics, supply chain, and create new jobs.”

Behind the scenes at the Port of Tampa

Cruises are the part of the Port of Tampa many know well. But there is so much more going on dockside. We spent four months behind the scenes, learning how the port's many tentacles touch our lives.