Two hours into what was evolving as a nondescript master plan workshop for Port of Tampa tenants, Arthur Savage launched a torpedo in the direction of the port's management strategy.
"Our cargo is in a 20-year decline," the owner of the A.R. Savage & Son shipping agency in Tampa said. "We need to reverse that."
Jim Brennan, workshop moderator and partner in the Norbridge, Inc. maritime consultants in Washington, pointed out that seaport competition is fierce. Savannah's port, for example, provides Interstate 4-corridor businesses with dozens of weekly container cargo shipments compared with less than a handful in Tampa.
Wade Elliott, senior director of marketing at Tampa's port, acknowledged longstanding heavy cargo, including fertilizer, was in decline but said the port's strategy of having a diversified mix of business sectors is key to a strong economy.
Unlike past discussions, one suggestion arose that could help bridge the communications gap that's accompanied longstanding struggles over power and strategies at Tampa's port.
"Look at a sales and marketing committee with local stakeholders helping (port authority officials) meet customers," suggested Troy Manthey, owner of the Yacht StarShip Dining Cruises.
Brennan said he would include that suggestion in his report to port authority board members as part of the master plan update process.