Port Plan: 8,100 New Jobs are Possible

The City Controller argues that utilizing the land for containers, autos and energy is the best way forward.

The City Controller's Officer argues that 8,100 jobs are possible at Southport.

The City Controller’s Officer argues that 8,100 jobs are possible at Southport.

What should we do with Southport? The 239-acre parcel at the east end of the Philadelphia Navy Yard has been the topic of much debate over the years. Now that a plan is in place to deepen the Delaware River from 40 to 45 feet — allowing larger cargo ships to pass through — it’s high time to get the space in order.

In the latest re-development plan, the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority has received 16 proposals for development and is reviewing the plans.

City Controller Alan Butkovitz offered his two cents yesterday, claiming that Southport could create 8,100 jobs by utilizing the land for containers, autos and energy. He also argues that his plan would generate between $240 million and $336 million in wages, resulting $10 million to $13.5 million in annual tax revenue. Plus, he said it would indirectly create trucking, warehousing and customs jobs.

“While each industry plays an important role in how Philadelphia can maximize the number of jobs at Southport, a combination that includes as many containers as possible would produce the most jobs,” said Butkovitz. “It’s not just about quantity, but there has to be a balance between ready-right-now jobs and potential future jobs that haven’t matured to the same level of actualization.”

Butkovitz did offer two other plans. One would split the site into a container terminal and energy port, which he says will bring 6,841 jobs. The other is to make it part container terminal and part auto facility, which he says will create 5,815 jobs.

But the Teamsters union isn’t keen on his plan. The Philadelphia Inquirer has its reaction:

William Hamilton, president of the Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters, said the report ignored jobs already at the port, where 150,000 Hyundai and Kia automobile imports from South Korea are processed annually for showrooms. Auto processors say they need more space on the Delaware River to expand.

While others are talking about future energy jobs, Hamilton said, the auto-processing jobs are available now. “We can put to work” inner-city kids, he said, adding that the controller’s report “distorts” the real facts.