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Leslie Richards, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, accepted the Friend of Chile Award on behalf of Governor Tom Wolf, who was unable to attend the ceremony.
Leslie Richards, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, accepted the Friend of Chile Award on behalf of Governor Tom Wolf, who was unable to attend the ceremony.

Chilean and American Chamber honors Governor Wolf

The Chilean and American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia held its 20th Annual Friend of Chile Awards Luncheon on Friday.

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Governor Tom Wolf is a leader who values the strong trade relationship between the Philadelphia area and Chile. Now, his commitment to furthering this bond has earned him a special recognition.

On Friday, Nov. 17, Wolf was awarded the Friend of Chile Award by the Chilean and American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia at the 20th Annual Friend of Chile Awards Luncheon. The ceremony was held at the Union League of Philadelphia.

The chamber also honored Robert Palaima, President of Delaware River Stevedores, with the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Governor Wolf was recognized for his dedication to enhancing the Port of Philadelphia, a major hub of trade between Chile and the U.S. Last year, Wolf announced a $300 million investment toward the port as part of a comprehensive Capital Investment Program. According to the chamber, this investment will improve and expand the port’s infrastructure and facilities, strengthening the Philadelphia area’s trade relationship with Chile while creating growth opportunities and thousands of jobs in the process.

Leslie Richards, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, accepted the Friend of Chile Award on behalf of Governor Wolf, who was unable to attend the ceremony. She spoke of Wolf's commitment to the state’s transportation systems and economy.

“He and I both recognize that our ports are a critical part of our transportation network that fuels economic growth for all of us here in the commonwealth,” Richards said.

Along with improving infrastructure, the investment into the Port of Philadelphia addresses warehousing and equipment needs, Richards said, adding that the project is expected to double container capacity at the port. 

“One of the biggest increases in the Port of Philadelphia cargo has been from Chile, especially in fruit cargo,” Richards said. “We look forward to continuous success in this industry.”

The Port of Philadelphia project will continue through 2020, Richards noted.

Juan Gabriel Valdés, Ambassador of Chile to the United States, also spoke at the ceremony. He affirmed that the implementation of Wolf’s policies regarding the Port of Philadelphia will have a positive impact on Chile's trade partnership with the U.S.

Palaima received the chamber's Lifetime Achievement Award for his commitment to ensuring the success of the Ports of Philadelphia, Camden and Wilmington, including his role in negotiating labor agreements to foster competition among the ports. He has played a pivotal role in retaining key commodities for the Port of Philadelphia, including steel, automobiles and Chilean fruit.

In addition to his work leading Delaware River Stevedores, Palaima serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Chilean and American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia. He is also a member of the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Maritime Society and Board of Managers of the Seamen's Church Institute, among other groups.

Past honorees at the annual luncheon include former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, former Delaware Governor Jack Markell and President of the New Jersey Senate Stephen M. Sweeney.

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