The new Southport Marine Terminal development project at the Port of Philadelphia received a big boost recently with Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell’s decision to invest $25 million in state capital funds toward the project.

The money from the state will go toward pre-construction activities on the site (which already have started) and include design work, permitting, site preparation and utility infrastructure, according to a news release from the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority.

Board chairman John Estey and executive director James McDermott said in a joint statement that the recent economic recession and crisis in the world’s financial markets had hit the maritime industry hard and that, in the first quarter of 2009, world trade volumes had fallen by double-digit percentages, but long-term projections and projects, such as the expansion of the Panama Canal to accommodate larger cargo vessels, point to better times.

“With pre-construction work under way and necessary permitting moving forward, we expect final bidding on the Southport Marine Terminal to be more robust than originally expected, which will enable the Commonwealth to recoup its investment,” the men said in their statement.

“The Port of Philadelphia is on the cusp of a tremendous expansion that will strengthen its competitive position among U.S. East Coast seaports and greatly expand its contribution to the economic health of Pennsylvania.”