From the early days of the American steel industry to modern shipments of medical devices and industrial goods, the Lehigh Valley has long been a key inland market for the Port of Philadelphia.
On May 19, the Lehigh Valley World Trade Club visited the PRPA to learn more about their seaport.
“Lehigh Valley companies have always exported, but today there is a greater awareness of the need to be active in the global marketplace,” noted Tim Charlesworth, President of the Lehigh Valley World Trade Club.
Charlesworth is also an international lawyer with the firm of Fitzpatrick Lentz & Bubba, PC, and he understands the importance of doing research before exporting. “We wanted our members to see how the port operates, and understand their options for shipping internationally,” he explained.
PRPA Marketing Representative Joe Fox participated in the “Day at the Port,” and he discussed the importance of the Lehigh Valley to the Port of Philadelphia: “Not only are the big manufacturing companies in the Bethlehem and Allentown areas exporting more through our Port, but large distribution centers are increasingly moving into the Lehigh Valley. For many of these warehouses, the Port of Philadelphia is a better port option for their imports as well.”
The “Day at the Port” began at PRPA headquarters, where the visitors received an overview from the Port Authority’s Dominic O’Brien, and then a presentation on the “Role of the Freight Forwarder,” from John Antonucci and Dave Collins of 721 Logistics.
“In today’s global marketplace companies need a freight forwarder who can grow with them, provide excellent customer service and keep them compliant throughout the export process,” said Antonucci, Vice President of the Philadelphia-based 721 Logistics.
Collins added, “Providing value to the shipper/exporter is critical when selecting a freight forwarder. Helping companies grow their business into emerging markets and building that trust is key to developing long standing relationships.”
Following a bus tour of the PRPA’s facilities, the group returned to PRPA HQ, where they heard from US Customs and Border Protection Officer Bryon Howe. Howe, who works with the Advance Targeting Unit, gave a “Customs 101” presentation that was of particular interest to the newer exporters in the room.
Cora Landis, Program Director for the Lehigh University Small Business Development Center’s International Program, helped organize the visit. She wanted the Club’s members to get a wide view of the entities that work at the Port. She said, “to understand world trade, it really helps to understand seaports.”
Landis and the SBDC International Program help Lehigh Valley companies export in cooperation with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s World Trade PA Program for Trade Promotion. “There are resources available to help companies go global, from market analysis to legal advice; from Pennsylvania overseas trade representatives to grants to attend trade shows overseas.”
Thanks to new and improved PRPA terminals and new steamship line services, the Authority is optimistic that more of the Lehigh Valley’s international trade can ship via the Port of Philadelphia.
Congestion and delays at competitor ports in the US Northeast and West coast give Port Philadelphia added confidence of future cargo increases.
The PRPA PRPA’s Joe Fox concluded, “We’ve shipped all kinds of cargos from the Lehigh Valley, from large industrial machinery to medical devices, food products, and art supplies. We’re certain we can handle their growing global trade through our terminals.”
For more information on US Customs and Border Protection, see http://www.cbp.gov/
The Lehigh University Small Business Development Center’s International Program Website is here: http://www.lehigh.edu/~initdp/initdp.html
The Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) is an independent agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Its primary mission is the enhancement of water-borne trade and commerce. Port activity generates thousands of direct and indirect jobs in the Philadelphia area and throughout Pennsylvania.