A weak dollar and global economic slowdown have depressed shipments to the Philadelphia ports.

The Philadelphia river terminals owned by the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority had a strong 2006, but a weaker 2007. Export activity had been strong, and included Pennsylvania-made steel. But exports could not offset weaker imports, because of the falling dollar, which makes foreign-made goods more expensive.

Still, there is hope. The Philadelphia port is a major entryway for foreign beef served as hamburgers in restaurants. And a growing sector is imports of Uruguayan frozen beef.

The port is also eagerly anticipating major infrastructure projects that could result in more ships doing business here. They include the planned deepening of the Delaware River channel and the widening of the Panama Canal. The latter would provide greater access by Asian cargo ships to Philadelphia.

Nearby, at Philadelphia International Airport, Charles Isdell, director of aviation at the Philadelphia Airport, expects flat passenger traffic this year and a 5 percent decline in 2009.

But in recent years and in the current recession, Philadelphia has preserved its airport operations more than have Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Las Vegas. These cities lost airport capacity because legacy carriers curtailed hub operations, or because they were heavily dependent on leisure travelers.      - Bob Fernandez