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Port of Wilmington, Delaware Marks its 90th Anniversary
Exciting international trade opportunities supporting the export and manufacturing requirements of the local ship building, railroad car construction and carriage making industries as well as those of an industrial area encompassing 5 million people in five states were envisaged when the Board of Harbor Commissioners of the City of Wilmington opened the Port of Wilmington for commerce on May 2, 1923. As we commemorate the Port of Wilmington’s 90th Anniversary, we also celebrate its growth from then, a hundred acre facility with three berths, 25 feet depth of water at its berths and two storage sheds, to today, a world-class marine terminal encompassing 308 acres, offering 10 operating deep-water berths, over 1,000,000 ft.² of temperature controlled and dry warehouse space, sophisticated cargo handling equipment and an experienced, and very capable workforce; all of which have created an impressive worldwide reputation for Delaware’s port.
Imports have surpassed export cargo as manufacturing activity along the Delaware River and its hinterlands diminished. However, the Port has adapted to this changed commerce paradigm and 90 years later it leads the nation in perishable cargo imports and is the top banana port for North America. Still very active on the export side Wilmington loads more live cattle for Middle Eastern and European markets than any other East Coast port. And, at 5 million tons handled annually it is the top cargo terminal on the Delaware River.
The Port of Wilmington still fulfills its international supply chain responsibilities for many Delaware-based and regional companies and the products they ship or receive such as steel products for Evraz Claymont Steel and Helmark Steel, petroleum coke exports produced by The Delaware City Refining Company, Wawa gasoline for its convenience stores, orange juice concentrates for Citrosuco North America, organic corn for Perdue, road salt for local municipalities, and literally tons of fresh fruit for local and regional retail markets. Automobiles, apple and pear juice concentrates, specialty ores and chemicals, forest products and project cargo round out the port’s extensive and diversified cargo portfolio.
The Port has always been an economic engine for the State of Delaware and the surrounding region and in the intervening years its impact has grown considerably and it is now responsible for over 4,300 family sustaining regional jobs, $363 million in business revenue, $340 million in annual personal income, and $34 million in annual regional tax revenue!
“Since its founding in 1923, the Port of Wilmington continues to generate tremendous employment opportunity and regional economic activity for Delaware,” said Governor Jack Markell. “Its strategic location, coupled with its meticulous operation as the ‘Port of Personal Service’ has served as a tool to attract new business to Delaware. The vast amount of imports and exports successfully travelling through the Port over the past 90 years will continue to lead to future business opportunities for our state.”
The State of Delaware purchased the Port from the City of Wilmington in 1995, and established the Diamond State Port Corp. (DSPC), a state entity, to manage the Port. Since 1995, the State has invested over $187 million in port development and expansion, and it is estimated by independent economists that port activities have produced more than $403 million in local and regional tax revenue. (Reuters)
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