our nation’s port for inner and outer space
SPACE COAST DAILY TV PROFILE: MALCOLM “MAC” MCLOUTH, a driving force of the progress of Port Canaveral since the 1970s, has served as a port commissioner nine times and as the CEO for four years. McLouth, a civil engineer, has devoted a large part of his career to the creation and advancement of Port Canaveral and is now running again for the District 5 seat. (Political advertisement paid for and approved by Mac McLouth, Republican candidate for Canaveral Port Authority District 5)
In 1953, when United States Senator Spessard Holland helped to dedicate Port Canaveral, he called it “our nation’s port for inner and outer space.”
At that time, the Port was in its infancy and a shadow of what it is today, but visionaries such as Malcolm “Mac” McLouth have made Holland’s optimistic words a reality.
For more than 50 years, McLouth has made it his life’s mission to shape Port Canaveral into the nation’s port, and he has done at an excellent job in transforming Port Canaveral from a sleepy cargo port into a powerhouse destination for cruise ship passengers, as well as the go-to port for cargo in Central Florida.
With more than 4 million cruise ship passengers a year, Port Canaveral is now the second busiest port in the world and McLouth is confident that in five years it can surpass Miami’s five million passengers to garner the Number One spot.
McLouth knows what he is talking about since he has served on the port commission nine times, a figure he would like to make an even 10.
He is running as Republican candidate for Port Canaveral’s District 5, which encompasses the municipalities of Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach and Merritt Island, but is a district-wide vote.
McLouth’s admiration for and dedication to the Port and its environs began in 1966, when as a Boy Scout leader he led his troop on a weekend camping trip to the recently opened Jetty Park.
“I remember being so impressed with the beauty and serenity of the place,” he said. “Being an engineer and working as I did in growth and development, I thought it would be wonderful if we could find a way to ensure that this place could escape development and always be kept as a park for people to use.”
A recent transplant at the time, in 1962 he had moved to Brevard from Minneapolis when Pam American recruited the civil engineer as superintendent of industrial hygiene, in charge of monitoring the effects of toxins and pollution.
‘I Got Hooked On The Place’
While attending the University of Minnesota, McLouth had become active in the Republican Party and he desired to continue with politics after moving to Brevard, but the problem he encountered was finding many Republicans in the area during those years.
McLouth had originally thought of helping a Republican become port commissioner, but there was nary a member of the party who wanted to run for the position. McLouth took matters into his own hands.
“I wanted to run for something and remembering the Jetty Park weekend, I decided to run for port commissioner,” said McLouth.
“I got hooked on the place, so I campaigned hard because I wanted to make a difference.”
Beyond the natural beauty of Jetty Park, McLouth saw amazing untapped potential at the Port.
“There wasn’t much business going on, just some orange juice, newsprint and petroleum,” said McLouth, who vowed to help reshape the Port.
He not only got elected port commissioner once but went on for eight straight terms, serving the Port in the position for the next 32 years before resigning in 1996 to become its director of marketing, a job he held for four years before his segue as executive director for another four.
After his stint as executive director, McLouth got elected for a ninth term and served the Port until 2011. Although he is not currently in office, he attends all Port meetings.
“I’ve kept very active as a community leader,” he said.
Among the major accomplishments in his career, McLouth is proud that in 1971, he was integral in doubling the size of the Port, by working to obtain a Federal Economic Development Act grant and Corps of Engineers permits to develop the western turning basin.“Without it, we would have been dead in the water,” he quipped.
When McLouth first became involved with the Port more than half a century ago, about 2/3 of the total revenue needed for the facility was derived from taxes. That wouldn’t do, he said, and he helped turn the figure around 32 years ago, making the Port self-sufficient.
Arguably his greatest accomplishment and one that floated the Port’s profitability was his influence in marketing the Port to the blossoming cruise ship industry.
As early as 1967, he was pitching Port Canaveral as the “outlet to the sea” for then-new Walt Disney World, just four years after S/S Yarmouth, the first cruise ship to use Port Canaveral, took off with a whopping 402 passengers for a sold-out Labor Day jaunt to Nassau.
Premier, the first cruise line to call Port Canaveral a home port, was soon followed by giants such as Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Carnival and, of course, Disney. Additional lines such as Cunard also use the port on a regular basis.
He also never forgot Jetty Park, which first inspired him. Along with the Port, Jetty Park has matured and is now considered one of the Space Coast’s top recreational spots, with 4.5 acres of beach, 210-site campground, boardwalk, bait and tackle shop and a refreshment center.
At the opening of the channel into the Atlantic Ocean by Jetty Park now sits one of the most-loved features of the facility, the 1,200-foot Malcolm E. McLouth Fishing Pier, named in Mac’s honor in 1995.
McLouth’s Expertise Is Among Port’s Greatest Assets
From the balcony of his condo in Cocoa Beach, McLouth never tires of watching the comings and goings of the many cruise ships he helped to first welcome. “It never gets old,” he said.
McLouth decided to toss his hat in the port commissioner ring again at the encouragement of friends and other commissioners who feel his expertise could well be one of the Port’s greatest assets.
If voters elect him as port commissioner for the 10th time, he vows to put his considerable knowledge and energy to help propel the Port to the top spot.
“I put a lot of hours into the job because I really love it,” he said. “I’ve spent the last 50 years of my life working on the Port. I’ve got so much time and energy invested in the Port that I can’t let it go. It’s been my life.”
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Mac McLouth, Republican candidate for Canaveral Port Authority District 5.
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