Plans to build a $75 million automotive import/export complex were approved by Port Canaveral commissioners last week, but only if the officials get a commitment from an automaker to use it. The automaker’s choice will be announced in late October or early November and it will start operating in May.
The undisclosed automaker is looking to import its cars into the southeastern states, and a number of other ports in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina are seeking the project, too, said John Walsh, Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer.
Port Canaveral leaders believe they have a good chance to get the deal because of the port’s position close to Orlando International Airport, the world’s number one car-rental location.
The vehicles will be imported into the port by ship, most likely from manufacturing plants in Mexico. When they arrive at Port Canaveral, they will be shipped by truck to the dealers in Florida or other states.
The port’s project includes a six-story garage with space for 7,500 cars. It would be built east of Cruise Terminal 1 which is now under construction. A nearby 60,000-square-foot processing complex is planned to be built. There vehicles would undergo quality control inspection and speakers, sunroofs and Bluetooth technology would be installed.
The port plans to import 125,000 cars during the first year and 300,000 cars in three to four years.
180 to 220 jobs are expected to be created: stevedores, quality control inspectors and technicians. In addition, the 50 to 100 truckers would be needed.