By Trish McFarland

Over the past decade, Delaware County has faced tough job-loss challenges that began with the closing of the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Despite a valiant fight by city officials to keep the Navy Yard afloat, it went under and took 40,000 prime industrial jobs with it. Many of those jobs were held by residents of Delaware County.

Today, our county's economic outlook is much brighter, but we must make the right decisions to capitalize on and sustain the opportunities before us.

Southeastern Pennsylvania is on the cusp of exciting growth with the revitalization of the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex as part of the proposed Mariner East liquid-natural-gas pipeline. With this investment, the Delaware River could become the new hub for the Northeastern United States as a source of clean, abundant, affordable energy.

Energy development has fueled local economic growth in recent years. In 2012, Monroe Energy invested in the closed ConocoPhillips plant and since that time has increased Monroe's full-time employment by 15 percent. It has also invested $400 million in the Trainer facility to date.

In order to continue to maximize growth, increase the economic opportunities that Marcus Hook can provide to our region, and ensure a sustained, vibrant energy sector as a part of our local economy, we support the construction of new infrastructure.

The $3 billion Mariner East natural gas liquids (NGLs) project by Sunoco Logistics will carry products that are essential to our state and national economy. These products help heat and cool our homes, and power both factories and small businesses, all of which we hope will see increased economic activity. Moving NGLs from the fields of Western Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex will bolster future development and, in particular, local manufacturing.

This economic investment in the pipeline would not only provide Pennsylvanians with affordable, domestic energy products, but would also provide hundreds of jobs and economic growth in Delaware County. The benefits of a revitalization project of this magnitude are not limited to those working on the project. Heightened investment in the community means more restaurant patrons, store sales, hotel business, housing purchases, apartment rentals, and more.

From both sides of the state, Washington and Delaware Counties have witnessed firsthand the benefits that investments in pipelines have delivered to communities and local businesses. That's why the chambers of commerce of both of those counties have led the formation of the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance, which supports increased investment in the creation and modernization of pipeline infrastructure.

Along with local labor organizations, the coalition represents interests with diverse perspectives that all strongly believe our state must invest in infrastructure projects to sustain long-term economic growth. That kind of investment will make the region more attractive to the private sector, allowing us to compete with cities around the world to entice and retain businesses, industries, and talent.

The Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, 1,200 members strong, has served as a strong voice in promoting business and working to create a prosperous environment for economic growth and job creation in Delaware County for more than 100 years.

We understand that while Southeastern Pennsylvania has much to boast about, we still need the right infrastructure to make the Philadelphia region a world-leading energy hub.

Trish McFarland is president of the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, a founding member of the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance. trishm@delcochamber.org