Rebuilding the Economy One Shipment at a Time
By: Ella Lawson
Since the Recession of 2008, America has been working overtime to rebuild its job economy. The entire nation received an impact of rather devastating proportions; especially the South. But thankfully, we live in a country of dedicated, hardworking individuals determined to bring jobs back to the Land of the Free. Many towns in South Carolina reaped the rather tragic consequences of the Recession. Luckily, organizations such as the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) are there to answer the cry for help and provide job opportunities to the beloved citizens of the Palmetto State.
The SCPA is responsible for one in eleven jobs across the state of South Carolina, with port- supported jobs paying 40% higher than SC’s average annual wage. Thanks to SCPA, an annual economic activity of $53 billion exists, as well as 187,600 jobs, $10.2 billion in labor income, 10% of total annual gross state product, and $912 million in tax revenue. The Pee Dee Region alone has seen $6.3 billion in economic impact, with 22,400 jobs (one in fourteen in the region), $1.2 billion in labor income, and 12% of the Port’s total statewide economic impact.
The Ports Authority is not only making a major impact on the economy, but it is also affecting the environment in many positive aspects as well. So far, it has restored and added 22 acres of tidal marshes, which reduces the amount of air emissions and funds air monitoring stations. They also partner with the Lowcountry Open Land Trust, Charleston Waterkeeper, and Center of Birds of Prey, just to name a few. The community is also receiving benefits from the SCPA, as it supports trade-related organizations, establishing relationships between school and the community, and securing volunteers and resources needed for service projects. With this in mind, it is safe to say the SCPA truly cares about its fellow neighbors.
So far, there are terminals in Charleston, Georgetown, and Greer. And as of March 10, 2017, Dillon County was added to that list, set to officially open for business in early 2018 to support cargo transportation between Charleston and throughout the Carolinas, Northeast, and Midwest. With Dillon having an active railway system (access to the main line of CSX), this will prove to be beneficial to the transportation of cargo. According to SCPA President and CEO Jim Newsome, “Inland ports provide infrastructure in the interior of the state that supports the movement of freight to and from our marine terminals. Our facilities in Dillon and Greer are important to SCPA’s overall volume growth and the significant amount of cargo that moves today by rail.” Since 2011, international intermodal rail lifts have increased by 170%, with 23% of the port of Charleston’s import and export volume moving by railway.
Thanks to this system, the port of Greer has achieved tremendous success, as it accomplished 103,639 rail lifts in 2016. “This is a significant project for SCPA and our entire state,” said SCPA Board Chairman Pat McKinney, “Inland port Dillon complements the port’s infrastructure investments in Charleston and will no doubt spur economic development activity both in the Pee Dee area and the surrounding region. Port-related jobs pay 40% higher than the state’s average wage, and it is an exciting day to bring such opportunities to Dillon County.” South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster adds, “Our ports are a tremendously important part of South
Carolina’s growing economic engine, and Inland port Dillon will play a crucial role in helping our companies move goods more efficiently than ever before. This new facility will mean even more jobs and industry, and help take our state straight to the top.” Indeed, it is time for South Carolina to make its official recovery from the Recession. With the port of Dillion and SCPA, this state has the key to economic success.
With its location having a close proximity to Interstate 95, the Dillon port is a rather critical method of transportation in the Southeast. It also is the home of a Harbor Freight location that houses one million square feet under its roof and is located in the heart of the upcoming port. The initial phase will handle at least 45,000 cargo containers each year, allowing overnight access to and from Charleston’s port through CSX railways. The idea of adding a port in Dillon is fairly new, as it was first considered in April 2016. However, Jack Ellenberg, SCPA Senior VP, Strategic Projects, scoped out the project and plans were kick-started rather quickly. So far, the SCPA has finished the initial design phase, the permitting and equipment requisition process, and is working towards awarding contracts to begin construction.
Citizens and influential political leaders are excited about the addition of the Dillon port and the benefits it will bring to South Carolina. Congressman Tom Rice admits, “I’ve worked very hard at the federal level and with the South Carolina Ports Authority to advance the Dillon Inland Port project. This facility will bring industrial diversity and high-paying jobs to Marion, Dillon, and Marlboro counties, resulting in a huge economic impact to a much-needed area.” South Carolina Senator Kent Williams adds, “The opportunity for job creation and economic growth driven by this facility in our region cannot be overstated. This is an extremely significant day for residents of Dillon and surrounding areas, and I applaud the Ports Authority and its many partners for making this a reality.” Jim Newsome continues, “One thing to note about the Ports Authority is it is a ‘team sport.’ The port invested $2 billion in the expansion along with support of businesses in South Carolina. We are working with an all-star cast.” The SCPA has proven that with passion, hard work, and faith, it is possible to recover from the tragic effects of a recessive economy. After all, teamwork makes the dream work!
Once the port of Greer proved to be beneficial, the same was foreseen for Dillon. The future is looking mighty bright for the citizens of South Carolina, as this port is just one of many small steps in the right direction of a movement that will restore hope to its community.