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Governor Wolf Announces Strategic Plan for Port of Philadelphia

November 04, 2015

Philadelphia, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today announced his strategic plan for sustained management, maintenance, and development of the Port of Philadelphia. The governor emphasized his key priorities of investing in infrastructure, creating jobs, and keeping Pennsylvania economically competitive.

“Today is a new day at the Port of Philadelphia,” Gov. Wolf said. “Our port has a strategic location on the East Coast, but its infrastructure is rapidly aging. I am committed to ensuring the commonwealth is a strong partner with the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority so that this vital resource remains competitive on a global scale.”

The governor outlined his plan while standing on an undeveloped parcel of the Southport Marine Terminal Complex, located at the eastern tip of the Navy Yard. He was joined by Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) Chairman Jerry Sweeney, Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack, Senator Larry Farnese, Representative Bill Keller, and dozens of marine stakeholders.

“This is a wonderful day for the Port of Philadelphia,” Sweeney said.  “Southport is the future of the Port of Philadelphia, and to have Governor Wolf personally visit the Port and endorse this critical project that will bring so many jobs and other economic benefits to our region is very exciting and a testament to the hard work by the thousands of men and women who work in this port every day.”

“The ports are a valuable asset for the entire region and state of Pennsylvania,” Lt. Gov. Stack said. “To make the most of their potential, we need a comprehensive plan for how we can best use them to expand our economy and increase jobs, and we must follow up with a cooperative effort to carry out that vision.”

Governor Wolf said development of the Southport Terminal is one of his main goals for the Port of Philadelphia. The 196-acre riverfront property is owned by PRPA, located immediately west of the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal. It remains idle and undeveloped, but is currently undergoing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ), with a Request for Proposals (RFP) process expected to begin in 2016. The goal is to enable the market-driven development of Southport Terminal in 2017, creating up to 3,700 new jobs.

“Investing in this additional tract of developable land will have a significant impact on our ability to attract new business to Pennsylvania, increase the amount of available family-sustaining jobs, and grow our competitiveness as a major port in the region,” Sen. Farnese said.

“The people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will certainly appreciate Governor Wolf’s important investment in job growth in southeastern Pennsylvania, and I applaud his leadership in improving the lives of commonwealth residents,” Rep. Keller said.

In addition to establishing a timeline for the development of the Southport site, Governor Wolf announced further steps his administration is taking to ensure long-term stability and growth at the Port of Philadelphia.

1. Governor Wolf has named seven new board members to the Philadelphia Port Authority, including Chairman Sweeney. He has launched a national search for a new executive director with a proven track record of successful port development.

  • Chairman Gerard Sweeney, President & CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust
  • Yassmin Gramian, Senior VP of HNTB
  • Robert Clark, Associate at Ballard Spahr LLP
  • Michael Pearson, President of Union Packaging
  • John Dougherty, Business Manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98
  • Paul McNichol, Partner at McNichol, Bryrne & Matlawski, P.C.
  • John Skoutelas, VP and General Counsel for the Eastern Group, Waste Management

2. Governor Wolf will create an advisory committee of stakeholders to provide input on the future of the port. It will include stakeholders from industry, labor, local and state government to drive a unified vision for the port.

3. Governor Wolf is leading the strategic development of the port. He has directed PennDOT to conduct a study to determine the best use/economic feasibility of the port:

  • Governor Wolf asked PennDOT to work with the PRPA Board to evaluate its current assets and develop a Port Strategic Business Plan that will maximize asset utilization and employment potential. This Plan is coordinated with and is complementary to the Southport Procurement.
  • The Port Strategic Plan is being developed in a phased approach:
    • Phase 1 is to assess existing conditions, and it is underway.
    • Phase 2 is expected to begin sometime this winter, and includes setting a vision and direction.
    • Next spring and summer, phase 3 will begin. This will include developing capital investment strategies.
  • The Assessment is meant to augment past Commonwealth investments in the port; capitalize on long-term market trends; and effectively react to short-term opportunities.

4. Governor Wolf has prioritized the development of the Southport Marine Terminal Complex, and has already initiated request for proposals for development that will create jobs.

  • Governor Wolf solicited a Request for Qualifications (RFQ), which is well underway, and will widen the process, encouraging the continued participation of past respondents while inviting additional private sector interests to present their visions for the Southport property. Submissions of qualifications are targeted for November 2015.
  • Requests for proposals will be sent to short-listed proposals by the end of December 2015 with an anticipated due date for the proposals by June of 2016.
  • PRPA hopes to have Southport project under development by 2017. While committed to comprehensive due-diligence, the PRPA Board is nevertheless planning for a quick evaluation and selection process following September’s RFQ announcement.
  • The number of potential new jobs that might be created from the development of the Southport Terminal depends on the type of development that occurs. The following estimate represents the number of potential new jobs should be Southport Marine Terminal Complex be developed as a 100% Energy Terminal (the lowest) or a 100% Non-energy Terminal (the highest): 590 – 3,720 new jobs

The commonwealth has a proven track record of investments at the Port of Philadelphia, including $25 million per year on maintenance alone. Since 2010, Pennsylvania has delegated a total of over $300 million to the Port.

The Port of Philadelphia is the fourth largest port in the U.S. for the handling of imported goods. It is strong in bulk cargoes, such as fruits, vegetables, cocoa beans, and aggregates. It has considerable refrigerated and freezer warehousing space as close as 90 feet from the dock, allowing for handling of temperature-sensitive cargoes.

Pennsylvania’s three ports, which include Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Erie, have a competitive advantage due to their locations within 500 miles of 60 percent of U.S. and Canadian populations, with convenient access to six of the 10 largest markets in the U.S. To learn more about Pennsylvania’s ports, visit

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