With some twenty advanced offshore service vessels on its order book, Panama City, Fla., based Eastern Shipbuilding Group is expanding its operations. Today, the St. Joe Company announced that it will lease 20 acres of a former paper mill site in Port St. Joe, Gulf County, Fla., to Eastern Shipbuilding.
Eastern plans to expand its existing shipbuilding, vessel construction and repair and industrial steel fabrication operations to Port St. Joe, while continuing its operations in Panama City and Allanton.
Eastern’s Port St. Joe facility is immediately adjacent to one of only 14 state-authorized deep water ports in Florida. The Port St. Joe facility will enable the shipbuilder to meet current and emerging contract requirements for vessel manufacturing and has the potential to create many new jobs in Port St. Joe. Eastern is already in the process of hiring 500 new employees.
“The hard and diligent work of our current workforce has earned Eastern Shipbuilding Group the manufacturing contracts that necessitate our expansion to Port St. Joe,” said Brian D’Isernia, President of Eastern Shipbuilding Group. “Eastern Shipbuilding Group remains committed to manufacturing the highest quality vessels our customers demand in a global market. I appreciate the assistance of Gulf County Commissioner Warren Yeager and Port Authority Chairman Joanna White whose tireless efforts led to our expansion to Gulf County.”
Governor Rick Scott added, “Congratulations to Eastern Shipbuilding Group and The St. Joe Company on their combined efforts and confidence in taking this bold step which solidifies new opportunities for our state’s economy, and specifically, our citizens across the Panhandle. Efforts like this are part of the success we are seeing in Florida to create a business climate that creates jobs, and I commend Eastern Shipbuilding’s commitment to our great State.”
St. Joe has been working with the Port St. Joe Port Authority to reposition this area for port-related industrial and commercial activities. St. Joe’s former paper mill site is approximately 180 acres in size and offers approximately 2,000 linear feet of bulkhead, which has the potential to be expanded. The Port and Eastern Shipbuilding Group’s Port St Joe facility is also adjacent to a federally-authorized turning basin and navigational channel.
St. Joe also owns about 4,700 acres of undeveloped land adjacent to the site, with more than three miles of frontage along the Gulf County Canal, which connects the Gulf of Mexico to Florida’s intracoastal waterway. Additionally, Eastern’s Port St. Joe facility has access to nearly 80 miles of St. Joe Company-owned railway that links Port St. Joe to other railway systems, connecting to numerous other U.S. cities, including Atlanta, New York and Chicago.
“We are pleased to welcome Eastern Shipbuilding Group to Port St. Joe and Gulf County and see this as a first step to maximizing this region’s potential for port-related industrial and commercial activities,” says Park Brady, Chief Executive Officer for The St. Joe Company. “With the Governor’s commitment to job creation, the expansion of the Panama Canal in 2014 and this area’s assets, we will continue working to attract more port-related businesses.”
Last month, The St. Joe Company and the Port St. Joe Port Authority executed a Memorandum of Understanding to partner and collaborate on port-related economic development initiatives.
“The day has finally arrived where jobs, good jobs have returned to Gulf County and the alliance between the Port Authority and The St. Joe Company is bearing fruit — it’s a win, win for everyone,” commented Johanna White, Chairman of the Port St. Joe Port Authority. “We are fortunate that our available facilities in Port St Joe were a perfect fit for a company of the magnitude and stature of Eastern Shipbuilding Group.”
February 21, 2012