Philadelphia Regional Port Authority

Philadelphia Regional Port Authority

Executive director

www.philaport.com

Aside from the port security issue, probably the most dramatic development I have seen in recent years in my corner of the port/industrial world is the increased awareness among the general public of the impacts of port activity on the surrounding community. Thankfully, this has been overwhelmingly a good thing for our region, as our surrounding populace has often communicated an appreciation of the job impacts and economic spinoffs created by port activity. But an educated populace also means that ports must be especially on their toes and do their homework when potentially controversial projects must be addressed, especially those involving dredging and zoning issues.

Ports must back only those projects that are economically and environmentally sound, and be ready to answer in an effective manner the natural questions that will be raised by a concerned, involved populace. Make no mistake, such questions will arise when, for example, there is an initiative to deepen a river channel, or when your local maritime industry wants to keep a waterfront area zoned for maritime/industrial use when the latest "big box" retailer wants to see such lands zoned in their own favor.

We have found that an involved and educated citizenry in no way stands in the way of port progress. But it's a reality that does ensure that we go that extra mile and take those extra steps to assure that a particular project or initiative is definitely the way to go before implementing or backing it. Because, in the end, if a port does its due diligence on behalf of the general public, that general public will back its port 100 percent.