It’s All Connected: Ports are Critical to Manufacturers Success

The recent announcement that the House will take up H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 (WRRDA) next week is welcome news for manufacturers and businesses who need Washington to return to strong pro-growth policies. The Senate passed its version, S. 601 in May and now it’s time for the House to act.

When NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons toured the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal at the Port of Philadelphia in September to release new data that showed 70 percent of manufacturers are concerned about the poor condition of our nation’s infrastructure, the visit offered a lesson in the potential for shared economic success. The multiplying effect of manufacturing certainly helps transform other industries and sectors. For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $1.48 is added to the economy, the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector.

Photo by David Bohrer/National Assoc of Manufacturers

Photo by David Bohrer/National Association of Manufacturers

Family owned and operated, Holt Logistics runs the 106-acre Packer Avenue Terminal. The facility prides itself on a highly productive operation and recognizes that its strategic location is an asset to continue its growth as niche port that handles high value cargoes. As containers unloaded from the Olivia Maersk, Todd Brown, a representative from Holt Logistics, attributed a container service between Philadelphia and Australia to a growing trade relationship between the two nations. Thanks to the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement that entered into force in 2005, U.S. manufactured exports to Australia have nearly doubled, growing more than $14 billion.

Holt handles a variety of cargo, ranging from fresh produce sold on Wal-Mart shelves to raw materials that go into the assembly of Toyota vehicles here in the United States. Fiji Water even makes its way through the Packer Avenue Terminal, the main distribution point for the company’s Northeast market.

Holt has made a big investment in the Hyster Yardmaster cargo handling equipment proudly manufactured by Ohio-based NAM Member Hyster-Yale Materials Handling Inc. The equipment was ubiquitous at the Packer Avenue Terminal, dozens in operation at once, carefully moving hundreds of containers around the terminal.

Access to CSX and Norfolk Sothern’s rail networks is another strength the Port of Philadelphia and the Packer Avenue Terminal enjoy, along with quick access to both I-76 and I-95. There is no doubt that sound infrastructure drives business for Holt and the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority.

Much like we hear from our manufacturers, Holt Logistics is heavily focused on serving its customers. However, in order to take it to the next level, federal investments in the Delaware River navigation channel need to continue. The dredging of the Delaware River is about 60 percent complete and will soon increase the river’s depths from 40 feet to 45 feet to accommodate larger ships.

House passage of WRRDA will provide a number of benefits for businesses and industries that rely on our nation’s ports and inland waterways.  Timmons reminded a crowd assembled at the port that ninety-five percent of the world’s customers live outside of the United States. “Our outdated infrastructure will get in the way of economic growth if we let it deteriorate,” he said.

The NAM President’s visit to the Port of Philadelphia made it clear that Congress needs to do its part to keep Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey-based manufacturers competitive by ensuring continued access to markets beyond our shores.

It’s All Connected is a blog series by manufacturers focused on the need for authorization of the Water Resources Development Act.

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