As President Trump works to come up with a plan to create jobs, he may want to look to Paulsboro, New Jersey.
The blue-collar town due east of the Philadelphia International Airport is opening a 200-acre shipping port, the first major port to be built on the Delaware River in the last 50 years.
With a giant steel ship as their backdrop, local officials who braved the windy weather Thursday said the port would be an attractive location to shippers and spur economic growth in South Jersey.
“I hope I don’t offend anybody,” said Mayor Gary Stevenson, hinting at the Trump phrase he was about to employ, “but I believe this port will make Paulsboro great again!”
Port officials said most of the 100 workers on the docks right now live in Gloucester County, and they claimed that the port could employ a thousand workers as more customers sign on.
“We now stand at the beginning of a place that will be generational,” said state Senate President Steve Sweeney, who hopes the new shipping facility will become an institution in Paulsboro. “There’ll be families upon families that’ll work here.”
The timing is fortuitous for Paulsboro. An asphalt refinery reportedly is threatening to close there would cost 100 workers their jobs.
More than 15 years in the making, the port was built on an unused, contaminated oil tank farm owned by energy company BP, which remediated the land and leased it to the borough.
It is still mostly open space, which will allow port operators to build additional infrastructure to suit the kinds of goods imported and exported there.
The port’s first customer, NLMK, is a steel company based in Russia with a large presence in the United States.
The raw steel slabs delivered to the Port of Paulsboro on Thursday will be sent to NLMK manufacturing plants across Pennsylvania, according to a company spokesman.
Officials said a second customer was preparing to join the port, but they would not discuss details.