The Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce recently donated $25,000 towards a new service that will create new jobs, revenue for local businesses, and help to further increase tourism and visibility to Marathon and the Middle Keys.
The Marathon Port of Entry (customs and immigration services) is on schedule to open during the first quarter of 2015. The facility will enable international air travelers to clear customs at Marathon Airport, as well those arriving via watercraft. It will also allow for domestic travelers to travel to international destinations out of MTH Airport and local marinas.
“The Marathon Chamber Board of Directors is proud to step up and contribute towards this beneficial program that will directly benefit our 500-plus business-members,” said CEO Daniel Samess.
The Monroe Board of County Commissioners is footing the lion share of the costs for the facility — estimated to cost $1.15 million to build to federal Department of Homeland Security standards. County officials hope that state Department of Transportation grants will pay for half of the project while the other half will come from airport funds. However, from the very beginning the Marathon business community has pledged to help make this years-long process a real private-public partnership.
“The Marathon Chamber is grateful for the county commission’s efforts and investment into Marathon and The Middle Keys success, and is honored to partner with them on this initiative,” Samess said.
According to a study commissioned by the City of Marathon, the Port of Entry facility will bring dollars to the Middle Keys. A 35-page report generated in 2012 estimates it will have a $38.7 million impact on the local economy.