by Victor Skinner
Gov. Tom Wolf gathered with state and local officials Friday to announce $265 million in funding for the Port of Philadelphia to “continue modernization efforts and improve regional stability.”
“The port is an economic driver, not only in Philadelphia, but across the commonwealth,” Wolf said. “The port supports jobs, encourages trade, and builds connections that help businesses and communities across Pennsylvania thrive. This new $246 million investment will help the port build on its success over the past few years and will help Pennsylvania build on our commonwealth’s economic success and job growth, too.”
The money will fund the next phase of the Port Development Plan after a $300 million investment in 2016 that expanded the facility’s infrastructure and warehousing space and added three new super post-Panamax cranes at the Packer Avenue Marine terminal. The improvements, along with a new Southport Auto Terminal, ramped up cargo volumes, resulting in a 60% increase in containers arriving in the city.
Jerry Sweeney, board chair of the Port of Philadelphia, heaped praise on Wolf for prioritizing the port.
“There are future generations of Pennsylvanians who will reap the benefits of Gov. Wolf’s vision,” Sweeney said, touting the improvements at the facility in recent years. “The World Bank in a recent study showed we are the most productive port in the entire country.”
Sweeney said the new money will go toward increasing port capacity and warehousing space, land acquisitions, terminal densification and other upgrades. It also will help to draw additional investments from businesses and the federal government, he said.
“I think there’s no question we’ll attract additional private investment,” Sweeney said.
State Sen. Nikil Saval, D-Philadelphia, also attended the event to praise Wolf for investing in the “vital connection between our country and the rest of the world.” Saval said the port has been in operation for “more than 300 years,” and said the money will ensure a bright future.
“PhilaPort is the fastest growing port in the United States, serving as a crucial point of connection between our country and the rest of the world, and providing our region with good, family-sustaining jobs,” Saval said. “This investment in PhilaPort will help solidify Pennsylvania’s preeminence along the Eastern Seaboard in ensuring the smooth transit of essential supplies.”
Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation Yassmin Gramian, a former board member at the port, spoke about how the initial $300 million investment was used, and how improvements and connections with other transportation systems is essential to the commonwealth’s future growth.
“In light of recent supply chain challenges, this is even more important,” she said. “Investment in transportation is essential to our well-being.”
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey did not attend the event, but provided a prepared statement focused on what the money will mean for Pennsylvanians.
“The Port of Philadelphia is one of the most critical links in the country’s supply chain,” Casey said. “Its success is vital to the economic health of Pennsylvania and its impacts ripple throughout the commonwealth. This investment will create jobs not only at the port, but also for workers who transport goods across the region and the country.
“Investing in our ports will ease the economic challenges Pennsylvania families are facing by making operations smoother, getting goods to people faster and helping lower the costs of some of those everyday items families need,” he said.
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