Tampa Bay columnists
Mary Jo Melone
World & Nation
AP The Wire
Comics & Games
Home & Garden
Advertise with the Times
St. Petersburg hires new port director
By JON WILSON
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 26, 2000
ST. PETERSBURG -- The city should have a new-look port, the City Council decreed last year.
Coming aboard to help build it is a bilingual director with 20 years of maritime experience, a ship captain's license and a degree in nautical industrial technology.
Michael D. Perez has been hired as the new director of the city's marina and port, officials announced Tuesday. The Tampa native starts work on June 5 at a $70,000 annual salary.
"I hope to bring the port to the forefront. I think it's an asset to the community, a diamond in the rough," said Perez, 42.
For the first time in recent memory, the city has a port director with wide maritime experience. Perez was chosen from among 51 applicants, six of whom were selected for interviews.
Since 1993, Perez has been maritime marketing director for the Manatee County Port Authority. He has had stints with the Tampa Port Authority, Lykes Brothers Steamship Lines and Seahawk Deep Ocean Technology, which included a fleet of seagoing research vessels involved in deep water search and recovery.
A Merchant Marine veteran, Perez is licensed as a captain for ships of unlimited tonnage.
"Any vessel, any ocean," he said.
Perez takes the port director's job as the city looks for ways to implement a port master plan the City Council approved last year.
One of its goals is to remake the port into a destination for both residents and tourists. It would combine various features: marine research, cruise ships, retail and restaurants, for example.
One thing the port probably would not include is much cargo.
"It just wouldn't mix with what they have down there. I just don't see cargo," said Perez, who lives in Largo with his wife and four children.
Perez replaces David Metz, who left earlier this year after 25 years with the city. He took a senior economic development position with Pinellas County.
Perez's background fits well with the city's vision of the port, said Lee Metzger, St. Petersburg's Leisure Services administrator, whose job includes overseeing the port.
"He has been responsible for getting a cruise line at Manatee," Metzger said. "We are trying to form partnerships with Manatee and Tampa.
"He speaks fluent Spanish. We are looking for opportunities in Mexico and other places to develop business," Metzger said.
© St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.