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PENNSYLVANIA
From Site Selection magazine, September 2017
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Port of Philadelphia Bulks Up

PENNSYLVANIA
Philadelphia Skyline: Getty Images
by MARK AREND

A Capital Investment Program at the Port of Philadelphia that will invest more than $300 million in the Port’s infrastructure, warehousing and equipment is under way and will continue through 2020. Announced by Governor Tom Wolf in November 2016, the initiative will double container capacity, position the Port for future growth, create thousands of jobs, improve efficiency and increase tax revenues, according to the governor’s office.

The program, ranking among the largest investments by a state on the East Coast, will boost three of the busiest sectors of the Port of Philadelphia, including the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal, the Port’s automobile-handling operation, and the Tioga Marine Terminal. These improvements will result in doubling container capacity at the Port, provide increased breakbulk (non-containerized) cargo capacity, and bring a substantial increase in automobile-handling capacity. A total direct job increase of 70 percent is projected from the current level of 3,124 to a projected 5,378 direct jobs. Total employment at the Port will also increase, from 10,341 to 17,020, and state and local tax revenues generated will increase from the current $69.6 million to $108.4 million annually.

By the Numbers Current Future
Capital — Estimated —  $300M
Growth in Container Capacity 86%
Growth in Breakbulk Capacity 21%
Growth in Automotive Capacity 166%
Annual Revenue @ Capacity $5.7M $18.9M
Direct Jobs (70% Increase) 3,124 5,378
Total Employment (65% Increase) 10,341 17,020
State/Local Taxes (56% Increase) $69.6M $108.4M

About $200 million of the Capital Investment Program will be invested in the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal, the Port of Philadelphia’s largest maritime facility. These improvements will include four new electric post-Panamax container cranes, the relocation of warehouses to facilitate container growth and the construction of new ones, and a deeper 45-foot depth at the terminal’s marginal berths to match the new 45-foot depth of the Delaware River’s main channel. 

Cargo Handling to Double

Officials of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) expect that these improvements will result in no less than a doubling of the cargo-handling capacity at the terminal, already the busiest and most multi-use terminal at the Port of Philadelphia. Container-handling capacity will especially increase, with a 900,000 TEU capacity immediately resulting from the improvements, scalable to exceed 1.2 million TEU capacity in the future, a significant improvement over the terminal’s current 400,000-plus TEU capacity.

The improvements at the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal, the Port’s primary container facility, will occur at about the time that the Delaware Main Channel Deepening Project, which is deepening the Port’s main shipping channel from 40 to 45 feet, will be completed. The larger, deeper-draft container vessels that will be able to reach the Port because of the deepening project (as well as a recently improved Panama Canal) will now find a terminal that is especially prepared for their needs.

The Ports Automobile Import/Export facility, which currently processes 150,000 cars and employs more than 300 direct workers will also benefit by receiving about $90 million of the Governor’s Capital Investment program. Since 2010, Glovis America been the main customer of the Port’s Auto Processing facility, located in South Philadelphia adjacent to the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal, bringing Hyundai and Kia automobiles on vessels for eventual distribution to dealerships throughout the region.

Improvements to the Port’s automobile-handling operation will include the addition of 155 paved and fenced acres above the flood plain at the Port’s Southport site; the conversion of the former seaplane hangar at Southport into a second auto-processing site; enhancements at the main auto-processing site at Pier 98 Annex; and the establishment of a framework that provides flexibility for use of the land the Port needs for containers and automobiles, as determined by market demands.

“The addition of space and ability to consolidate our footprint at the port improves our ability to make Philadelphia an aggressive cost-competitive port,” said Glenn Clift, President and CEO of Glovis America, Inc. “It also ensures our long-term commitment to grow jobs and revenues in the Commonwealth.”

Tioga Marine Terminal will be the third beneficiary of the program at the Port. A total of $12 million has been earmarked for improvements to the main on-dock warehouse that has been successfully handling and processing Brazilian wood pulp cargoes since 2014. A second warehouse at Tioga will be converted into a food-grade warehouse, allowing the Port to increase its wood pulp volumes to meet the demands of Pennsylvania companies requiring wood pulp. Improved rail access and the purchase of a second mobile harbor crane will also add capacity for Tioga Marine Terminal.

Mark Arend
Editor in Chief of Site Selection magazine

Mark Arend

Mark Arend has been editor in chief of Site Selection magazine since 2001. Prior to joining the editorial staff in 1997, he worked for 10 years in New York City at Wall Street Computer Review, ABA Banking Journal and Global Investment Technology. Mark graduated from the University of Hartford (Conn.) in 1985 and lives near Atlanta, Georgia.

 



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