With major port facilities, one of the nation's largest international airports, Tier I rail carriers and access to interstate highways, including I-95, serving major East Coast and Midwest markets, Greater Philadelphia is a logistics leader.
Walmart, TJ Maxx, Burlington Coat Factory and Sysco Food Systems are among the roster of major companies that with warehouse and distribution operations in the region. The transportation and logistics segment is a major component of the regional economy, employing more than 180,000 people
The region's integrated transportation infrastructure is a key advantage for doing business in Greater Philadelphia. The region is connected to major markets via interstates that run along both east/west and north/south corridors – including the vital I-95. Trucking firms that choose Greater Philadelphia know that more than 40 percent of the nation's population is within a day's drive.
Ports of Importance
Port facilities along the Delaware River operated by the Diamond State Port Corporation, South Jersey Ports Corporation and the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority offer cost efficient ways to receive raw materials and ship product to overseas markets.
Diamond State Port Corp. operates the Port of Wilmington, which handles about 400 vessels and 5 million tons of cargo each year. Wilmington is the top North American port for fresh fruit and fruit concentrates.
South Jersey Port Corp. oversees the ports of Camden, Salem and Paulsboro, the latter of which is now undergoing a major renovation that will relieve congestion from the heavily used Camden site.
The Philadelphia Regional Port Authority is building a new Southport terminal as well as a Southport West terminal, both of which are slated to open in 2014-2015. In addition, there is a five-year overall channel-deepening project now taking place on the Delaware River at Philadelphia, allowing for bigger ships and more capacity.
“Our channel is being deepened from 40 feet to 45 feet, which will allow bigger ships to access our city,” says Joe Menta, director of communications for the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority. “That’s especially big news because the Panama Canal is also being deepened, so bigger ships from around the world can eventually pass through Panama and head up the Atlantic Coast, with Philadelphia’s deeper channel able to accommodate them.”
Menta says maritime industries and shippers like to see a port move forward, and Philadelphia is doing exactly that.
“We keep growing our business, with Hyundai and Kia recently deciding to ship automobiles to the U.S. through Philadelphia,” he says. “Even though they are foreign vehicles, they mean more jobs for Americans. Longshoremen from Philadelphia, Delaware and New Jersey come to the docks to unload the cars, then Teamsters prep the cars for eventual delivery to dealerships, and American drivers truck the vehicles to their dealership destinations.”
Rail and Air Advantages
Class I rail carriers Canadian Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern serve the region and provide direct service to the Port of Philadelphia. The region also has one of the largest and most extensive public transit and commuter rail systems in the nation.
One of the country’s largest airports is Philadelphia International Airport, which not only moves millions of passengers each year but is a major freight handler that hauls 425 million tons of cargo annually.
That includes the UPS hub at Philadelphia International Airport, which is the package carrier’s second-largest hub, and UPS employs nearly 6,000 workers in the region while FedEx employs 5,900. The airport is undergoing a multiyear $5 billion capital improvements campaign that will include adding even more cargo facilities. Since 2000, the airport has undergone more than $1 billion in capital improvements including the opening of two new terminals.
Another option for area business travelers is New Castle Airport, which is five miles south of Wilmington and only a 25-minute drive from Philadelphia. New Castle accommodates corporate jets along with individual owners of aircraft.