Officials say re-branding reflects Florida bay port’s regional scope.
The Port of Tampa is now called Port Tampa Bay, part of a re-branding effort designed to emphasize the port’s regional reach beyond the city and attract more business from shippers and carriers.
Port President Paul Anderson splashed the news, along with a new logo and promotional video, to the community during the port’s annual State-of-the-Port address Jan. 22.
“There’s a whole new customer-centric focus and energy to what we’re doing here. We’re making the investments and structural moves to provide more capacity and value for our customers — and now we’re telling everyone about it. Our new logo and brand messages reflect regionalism and diversity in our lines of business and reflect who we are as a truly world-class port,” he said, according to a port authority summary of the event.
The new name is part of a broader image campaign and connotes the port serves a wider metropolitan area that includes the neighboring cities of St. Petersburg and Clearwater and the surrounding Hillsborough County, as well as Polk, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus and Manatee counties. Tampa has a population of about 350,000 people, while the tri-city region has more than 2.8 million people. But port officials have stressed for years that Tampa is an ideal gateway for the entire central Florida market that includes Lakeland and Orlando.
Florida will soon became the third largest U.S. state, with 20 million residents, but the population swells with close to 100 million visitors each year. There are 8.5 million people living within a 100-mile radius of Port Tampa Bay and another 55 million visitors along the Interstate 4 corridor every year that the port serves.
“We are truly a regional economic driver. We impact this region by over $15 billion” and 80,000 jobs, Anderson said the following day at an industry workshop in Tampa.
Port Tampa Bay is following the lead of other companies that have changed monikers to reflect the regional nature of their customer base, including the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times). All three major professional sports teams in the area — the Tampa Bay Rays in baseball, Tampa Bay Lighting in hockey and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in football — promote this regional outlook.
Anderson said Port Tampa Bay wants to support other ports such as Port Citrus, a potential new bulk port to the north along a shallow inland canal with access to the Gulf of Mexico. Citrus County has just completed a feasibility study for a port facility and wants to attract dry bulk businesses such as timber and aggregate to set up along the canal and ship to Mexico by barge.
Cooperation with nearby Port Manatee, a fierce competitor for cargo, could prove more difficult.
Port Tampa Bay is the largest port in Florida in terms of tonnage and real estate. It is a major liquid and dry bulk port, but its business includes containers, breakbulk and cruises. The port is also pursuing new roll-on/roll-off vehicle business and increased throughput of perishables by partnering with a group organizing an expedited refrigerated train to the Midwest. Tampa officials like to say the port is the “closest full-service port to the Panama Canal.”
“We have to become an efficient link in the supply chain for any of these projects, and the renaming is part of that,” Raul Alfonso, the port’s chief commercial officer, said in an interview. “We can’t just say we have a berth.
“We are more than a bulk or a cruise port. We are a gateway. We need to change that perception” among shippers around the world who normally think about other cities to access the Florida market, he said.
Port Miami is the closest U.S. port to the Panama Canal, but it is primarily a container port. Tampa is a small player in the container market, but is heavily promoting its proximity to Orlando to attract international shippers and carriers.
The name change doesn’t affect the port’s governing structure. The Tampa Port Authority still manages the port as an agency of Hillsborough County.