Varisa Lall Dass Will Bring an Economic Boom to Palm Beach County

The Port of Palm Beach County is one of South Florida’s top economic generators, employing more than 3,800 people directly and indirectly. In 2023, it processed over $14 billion in commodities and contributed more than $260 million in business revenue. If Commissioner Varisa Lall Dass receives a second term, those figures could soon double.

Varisa Lall Dass

“For decades, we only made $1 million a year. This past year, we made $3 million,” Dass says, reflecting on the district’s recent economic boom. “Already this year, we’re at $4 million. We’re gonna close out the year around $7 million.”

Dass joined the port commission in December 2022, when she was appointed to fill a vacancy left by now Representative Katherine Waldron. A former news reporter turned litigator, Dass served on multiple port committees prior to her appointment and currently sits on the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority.

“I think the thing I’m most passionate about is job creation. And the port was the greatest opportunity in Palm Beach County to have a direct influence on that.”

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Since 2018, Florida has rapidly grown to become the 14th largest economy in the world, with net exports increasing 23 percent in that timeframe. Dass has been at the forefront of that development, securing investments to increase trade capacity and bringing new business to Palm Beach County.

Dass has served as a commissioner for less than two years, but her short tenure has encompassed a surge in growth for the district. She has overseen the creation of more than 200 jobs for the county and a paid internship program to help young residents launch their careers.
One of her most notable accomplishments is securing grant funding to expand the port’s rail capacity. The commission estimates the project will eliminate more than 29,000 truck trips from I-95 annually, freeing up traffic.

The nearly 1,000-square-mile port district comprises nearly half of Palm Beach County. While it is legally entitled to levy taxes from residents, Dass aims to keep the district tax-free. She says the port’s success has guaranteed a win for taxpayers.

Dass (right) at the commencement of the Port Infrastructure Development Program

“It matters to have commissioners that are very economic-minded, that understand our business models, how to generate revenue, and how to generate profit so that we are able to continue operating without placing the burden on the public.”

The Palm Beach County Port has been a vital engine for business and job creation in the county, but Dass says there is potential to take it even further. If re-elected, her agenda would include adding warehouse space, building more docking space for ships, and securing airport-grade cement to allow the vertical stacking of containers.

Last year, the port moved a record 300,000 shipping containers. Dass’s plan would double that amount.

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“It is going to be expensive, but that’s why the port’s profitability matters. Because if we put up the money for half of it, then the federal and state government will match it.”

For Dass, engaging voters on the future of the port’s development is a top priority. She describes herself as a “community-based commissioner,” often meeting with residents to raise public awareness.

For voters, the port’s importance extends throughout their daily lives. Port growth creates jobs for the county, rail expansion means decreased traffic, and higher trade capacity means more growth for businesses.

“It’s truly rewarding to accomplish some of these things like job creation. But it does nothing if we’re not able to advise the public of it. And I’ve been very vocal about going to every single commission meeting and getting this information out.”

Varisa Lall Dass is running for a full term as the District 2 commissioner on the Palm Beach County Port Commission. She is currently seeking the Democratic nomination. To learn more about her campaign, visit her website.


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