The Port Industry's Big Three

Ports play a key role in an interconnected, global industry. We are fortunate here at Dewberry to have personnel with vast backgrounds in the ports and intermodal industry. Our team of planners, engineers, and environmental specialists are well-prepared to meet the challenges of this dynamic market, which, in my experience is driven by three major factors: politics, the environment, and business.

Port of Panama CityPort of Panama City


Having spent my career in Florida and around the ports and intermodal world, I am well versed in permitting regulations, expectations, and jargon in the industry. During an earlier part of my career, I worked with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) as deputy secretary, and eventually secretary, where I learned the ins and outs of the navigational process and protocol from both state and federal levels. With more than $3.7 billion planned for capital improvements over the next five years, there's always something new to take part in, research, and advocate for. The return on investment is roughly seven dollars for local and state revenues for every dollar of state investment. My background has allowed me to gain a broad understanding of how the various politics and agencies interact, including FDEP, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Florida Ports Council, and the Florida Legislature, to name a few.


Environmental factors frequently go hand in hand with the port industry, and navigating these permitting and environmental aspects can be very complex. A major concern for port design and construction activities is potential impacts to our natural resources, such as seagrasses and coral. For example, those overseeing dredging activities have the challenge of managing disbursed sediments and ever changing weather conditions that often transport materials miles from its original location—on top of seagrass and coral—resulting in impacts to our natural resources and surrounding aquatic ecosystems.

Port of Port St. JoePort of Port St. Joe


The third aspect of the ports industry is business. International and domestic travel and foreign trade deals are a few major factors that go into play when designing and keeping up ports. Understanding how international trade deals and relations work is critical. By gleaning information from organizations such as the International Association of Ports and Harbors, we've been able to develop a broad understanding of the logistical side of ports, how they interconnect, and ways in which different countries and regions play a role in the global ports industry. Based on a report by the Florida Ports Council in December 2016, Florida ports supported approximately 900,000 direct and indirect jobs, totaling $40.1 billion in personal income, $117.6 billion in economic activity, and $4.2 billion in local and state tax revenues.

Port of PensacolaPort of Pensacola

Florida's ports are an integral part of our nation's economy, and it's exciting to be able to play a role in this industry that has a global impact. It's a unique opportunity to have a front-row seat to the transient nature of the ports industry. As technologies and regulations continue to develop, I'm confident that our well-equipped team is ready to take on the challenges of this ever-changing business.

  • Cliff Wilson
    Cliff Wilson
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