Senator Marco Rubio visits Tampa to talk supply chain economics

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The senator and panel members spoke on a wide range of topics highlighting America’s vulnerability to supply chain shortages that have been exposed by COVID-19.

TAMPA, Fla. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio was in Tampa on Friday to participate in a roundtable at Port Tampa Bay.

The discussion, centered on supply chain issues, focused less on who or what is to blame, but more on the strategies needed to address these issues going forward.

Port Tampa Bay is an important part of this discussion because it could be uniquely positioned to help solve bottlenecks at the nation’s largest ports.

“Port Tampa Bay is not just geographically positioned to benefit,” Rubio said. “But they have a strategic vision and a supporting state and local government and community that thinks about it regionally and strategically.”

The senator and panel members spoke on a wide range of topics highlighting America’s vulnerability to supply chain shortages that have been revealed by COVID-19.

They include a reliance on foreign imports and key components that Rubio believes could be made here – or at least in the Western Hemisphere.

That, he said, would make Florida Ports a logical choice for distribution and exports.

“Workforce development. Bringing manufacturing to the port site. Becoming a leader in shipbuilding and crane construction,” Rubio said. “These are strategic elements that I think position the port to continue to grow and increase its relevance and importance.

Some projects aimed at better positioning Port Tampa Bay are already underway.

For example, the Army Corps of Engineers is working on widening the channel leading to Port Tamp Bay to accommodate larger ships, for example.

“There are, like I said, some things we can do right away that are deliverables,” Rubio said. “But there are long-term things that are important for the Port of Tampa. In fact, important for America.

Val Demings, Rubio’s Democratic challenger in the upcoming election, also pointed out that Rubio voted against the bipartisan infrastructure bill helping to fund many of the projects and concepts discussed by the panel.

Rubio defended his vote, saying the bill had too much unnecessary spending.

“Why do I have to vote for a bill that contains this garbage?” he asked, “In order to get projects for our state in our country? Especially when the formula they use to distribute the money is hurting Florida? »

Port Tampa Bay also presents itself as a smart place to unload ships, as 80% of trucks arriving in Florida from points north return empty.

By bringing freighters here, they said, there would be a fleet of trucks already in place to distribute anywhere in the southeast. Rubio agreed, saying Port Tampa Bay’s proximity to I-4 makes it a natural distribution point — not just for Florida, but for the entire region.

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