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Growth of inland ports outsized by e-commerce, report says

Distribution & Logistics
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The South Carolina Inland Port at Greer is the second-fastest growing inland port in the country according to a report from CBRE, a commercial real estate firm with offices in Greenville, Charleston and Columbia.

The report found that the S.C. Inland Port at Greer expanded its base of industrial properties by 4.2% in the first quarter of 2016. Only the inland port serving the Inland Empire of Southern California experienced a faster rate at 4.3%. Inland ports in Atlanta and Dallas-Ft. Worth both grew at a rate of 3.6%, according to a press release from CBRE

The 12 inland ports studied by CBRE expanded their industrial base by an average of 2.7% during the first quarter. The report suggested that the boom of e-commerce has grown the demand for warehouses and distribution centers located near inland ports. Seaports handle e-commerce cargo by routing them to inland ports where the cargo is broken down for distribution.

“Inland ports account for more than half of the fastest growing industrial markets in the U.S. because they are key way stations in the national e-commerce distribution network,” said David Egan, head of industrial and logistics research in the Americas for CBRE, in the release. “As online commerce continues to expand, more shippers, retailers and logistics firms will seek top-quality, big-box warehouses in the leading inland port markets to serve as critical links in their supply chain.”

According to the report, the S.C. Inland Port at Greer has grown its cargo volumes by triple digits since it opened in 2013. It reached a monthly volume record of 9,000 container lifts in March 2016, according to the report. The S.C. Ports Authority recently reported the Greer facility achieved a record in terms of volume with over 91,000 rail moves during fiscal 2016. The customer base of the inland port grew by 57% according to the Ports Authority.

As a whole, the Ports Authority reported it handled 1.9 million TEUs, or twenty-foot equivalent units, in fiscal 2016, an increase of 1.4% over the previous year, according to a press release from the Ports Authority. The SCPA said it moved around 1.1 million boxes around its docks during the fiscal year.

“The steady growth of industrial users, along with our proximity to other major southeast markets and the Port of Charleston, has enabled the Greenville-Spartanburg market to boast strong absorption numbers and record low vacancies for the past several quarters,” said Marcus Cornelius, vice president for industrial and logistics for CBRE, in the press release. “Additionally, with the expansion of the Panama Canal and more than 5.7 million square feet of space under construction, development is not slowing down and is expected to continue on its robust growth track.”

The rapid growth and caused some pains for other inland ports. According to CBRE, the inland ports with the least amount of available space are Chicago (6.6%), Kansas City (7.4%) and the Inland Empire (7.6%).

The S.C. Ports Authority recently announced plans to construct a second inland port in Dillon.

Reach Matthew Clark at 864-720-1222.

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