BP oil-spill money will be used to help the Port of Pensacola become a training base for American Magic, a New York-based yacht-racing team that is an America’s Cup challenger.
The board of Triumph Gulf Coast, a non-profit organization that helps administer settlement money from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, unanimously gave approval Thursday to an $8.5 million grant for work at the port as part of the project.
Erica Grancagnolo, Pensacola’s director of economic development and neighborhood services, pointed to the potential economic impact of the training base and said there is a “buzz” of support in the community for the project.
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“I’ve worked in local government long enough to know that no matter what you do, there are always naysayers out there. And I have not heard one individual in the city of Pensacola that is not thrilled to death with this project,” Grancagnolo told the Triumph Gulf Coast board during a meeting in Panama City. “Anytime we do community outreach events with the council members and the community, it’s nothing but questions from the audience about American Magic. Typically, ‘When am I going to see them practice more?’ ‘When can I see them on the water?’”
The American Magic team made its first trip to the Panhandle port in July 2018 in advance of the 2021 America’s Cup.
The grant is part of $49.1 million needed from the New York City Yacht Club, local, state and federal sources to renovate the partially completed Warehouse 10 at the port, along with the design and construction of a dock and boat ramp, according to the grant agreement.
Operations of the training center are projected to create 170 jobs — 150 tied to the racing association and 20 linked to the port. In May, Gov. Ron DeSantis allocated $3.9 million for the port work from the state’s Job Growth Grant Fund.
The money was earmarked for helping renovate the warehouse, which was damaged by Hurricane Sally in 2020.
“Once complete, the warehouse will house advanced manufacturing and boat building, ocean sciences and maritime technology research and development, as well as marine industry testing,” a news release from DeSantis’ office said at the time.
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