PALMETTO, Fla. – Port and longshore workers, truckers and others at Port Manatee today will begin to enroll in the Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program. The program's goal is to ensure that any individual who has unescorted access to secure areas of port facilities and vessels has received a thorough background check and is not a security threat.
"The start of enrollment here is one more step in our effort to prevent persons who are a threat from gaining access to secure areas of port facilities," said Maurine Fanguy, TWIC program director for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). "We appreciate the support of our partners at Port Manatee for helping to make one of the world's most advanced interoperable biometric systems a reality."
More than 1.2 million workers with unescorted access to secure areas are expected to apply for TWIC by April 2009. More than 100 ports have begun enrollment in the nationwide program. Ultimately, fixed enrollment centers will be in place at 147 ports along with mobile enrollment centers at dozens of other locations as needed.
The TWIC Enrollment Center is located at c/o Manatee County Port Authority, Access Control Center, 13604 Reeder Road, Palmetto, Fla. 34221-6619. The hours of operation are Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Workers at Port Manatee are able to pre-enroll for TWIC online at the Coast Guard's Homeport site, http://homeport.uscg.mil. Pre-enrolling speeds up the process by allowing workers to provide biographic information and schedule a time to complete the application process in person. This eliminates waiting at enrollment centers and reduces the time it takes to enroll.
Port Manatee is the closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the Panama Canal, providing shippers with speedy access to Pacific Rim markets and their expanding transportation needs. The port is among Florida's largest deepwater seaports. Port Manatee's total annual economic impact on Manatee County is $2.3 billion.