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Gov. DeSantis awards Pensacola $3.9 million toward American Magic's headquarters

© Amory Ross / NYYC American Ma/© Amory Ross / NYYC American Ma

It's “full steam ahead,” said Mayor D.C. Reeves as Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a $3.9 million grant to the Port of Pensacola’s Maritime Center of Excellence. The center will become a permanent home for the American Magic sailing team.

“This has been a top priority since the day I got in office,” said Mayor D.C. Reeves.

The governor shared the news of the grant in a press release Monday afternoon. Funding comes from the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund. Last week, the Triumph Gulf Coast board voted 6-0 to give initial approval to Pensacola’s $8.5 million toward securing permanent headquarters for the New York Yacht Club American Magic.

Reeves said he scaled back the city’s initial $53 million ask from Triumph to move the project along.

“We did that knowing full well (the board) would want to see success from the funding of Phase I,” he said.

The mayor credited port staff for helping to secure funding.

The American Magic team plans to bring more than 150 higher-wage jobs to the area. The average salary is $150,000 a year, which Reeves said was the largest average salary to come from a Triumph-funded project.

“That’s 150 families that are going to call Pensacola home,” said Reeves calling the project “one in a generation.”

In a press release, the governor touted the economic growth that will come from the project.

“We believe in making strategic investments that will create job opportunities and ensure Florida’s prosperity for generations to come,” said Gov. DeSantis.

American Magic was established as a team in 2017 and has been training in Pensacola seasonally since 2018. They returned in the winter of 2022 looking to make the city their permanent home. In a video on the team’s Facebook page, Terry Hutchinson, skipper and president of sailing operations says the Pensacola is perfect for training with the options to sail in the Sound or Gulf of Mexico. And because there isn’t heavy boat traffic, the team often gets the water to themselves.

“Pensacola is truly, in my humble opinion, almost the sailing mecca,” Hutchinson said.

While the team is training in Barcelona for the 37th American’s Cup race in 2024, Reeves said the city’s focus is finishing Warehouse 10 at the Port of Pensacola by November 2024. Renovations include a 50-foot addition along with design and construction of a dock and boat ramp.

“The intent is to have a permanent facility by the time they return from Barcelona,” Reeves added.

Reeves said he hopes to see Pensacola become recognized as a sailing capital.

“The team’s impact is going to have a domino effect on the city,” he said. “They’re in on the secret.”

Jennie joined WUWF in 2018 as digital content producer and reporter.