Governor Tom Corbett today emphasized the importance of Pennsylvania's rivers to the nation's economy and transportation system during an address to the 2011 Fall Waterways Symposium in Pittsburgh.
"If our country is a living body, these rivers are its veins. They connect our cities through industry,'' Corbett said. "That's why we need to maintain them, to develop them, to recognize them as the lifeline they are.''
The annual symposium is sponsored, in part, by the Waterways Council Inc., a national public policy organization advocating a well-maintained national system of ports and inland waterways. The group is supported by waterway carriers, shippers, port authorities, shipping associations and waterways advocacy groups from all regions of the country. Other sponsors of the symposium include The Waterways Journal and Informa Economics.
The focus of the annual waterways conference, attended by about 150 business leaders, economists, engineers and port directors from across the nation, was to discuss the importance and maintenance of rivers, ports, locks and dams, with regard to the national transportation system and infrastructure investment.
"These rivers aren't just flowing bodies of water,'' Corbett added. "They are a ceaseless creator of jobs. In the 12-county area around Pittsburgh, the estimate of jobs dependent on inland shipping is 45,000. Indirectly, the estimate runs to 217,000 jobs.
"That's a surprising number, until you think of some of the companies that need these rivers to reach their markets,'' Corbett said, "and those companies can continue as long as these rivers run free and deep.''
Corbett said he has been looking at waterways, rivers and ports all across the state in recent months.
"You get a real sense of how our state was settled, why some of our county seats are situated where they are and how Pennsylvania developed its commerce with other places,'' Corbett told the group. "My administration will stay engaged with the Waterways Council... You have an advocate in Harrisburg.''