September 22, 2023
St. Lucie County gets a green light to reorganize its foreign trade zone

Derecktor Shipyards' yacht servicing business will benefit from the FTZ.

Economic Backbone: Transportation

St. Lucie County gets a green light to reorganize its foreign trade zone

Mike Vogel | 5/31/2022

The foreign trade zone in St. Lucie County sat largely dormant for the 26 years since it was created, covering the Treasure Coast Airport near Fort Pierce and three nearby parcels. This year, the county received federal approval to reorganize the zone to allow expedited designation of sites for companies ready to conduct trade-zone activity such as manufacturing. The zone was expanded to include all of St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee counties.

Foreign trade zones, known internationally as free trade zones, provide tax relief in that goods imported into them are exempt from usual Customs procedures and duties until they are moved into the domestic consumer market. This allows companies to land, handle and manufacture goods more cheaply. There’s also tax relief for exporters to foreign markets.

Stan Payne, the airport’s executive director who also serves as director of the Port of Fort Pierce, says the zone also will benefit the mega-yacht servicing operation at the port created and run by maintenance, refit and overhaul company Derecktor Shipyards. At the port, the company has built the largest mobile boat hoist in the Western Hemisphere.

The county, meanwhile, is choosing an operator for a new maintenance, repair and overhaul hangar at the airport. The airport and port “are each in a state of dramatic transformation,” Payne says.

For decades, the Fort Pierce seaport was unique in Florida as a privately owned working waterfront. In 2018, the county acquired the site as part of a plan to build the port into a shipyard for mega-yachts in hopes of sparking an economic transformation.

Colossal Cruise

Royal Caribbean brought its Wonder of the Seas cruise ship, the world’s largest, to Port Everglades. It’s the fourth Oasis-class ship to debut at the port. Its inaugural cruise was to the Bahamas, Haiti and Puerto Rico.

Terminal Addition

JetBlue and Broward County plan to break ground this year on a fifth terminal at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The project will cost $306 million and add five gates. JetBlue will manage the project on behalf of the county.

Tags: Southeast, Transportation, Feature

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