The S.C. Ports Authority’s reach goes well beyond the Port of Charleston, with more than half of its economic impact happening in the Upstate, according to a study by Joey Von Nessen, research economist at the University of South Carolina.
The research shows SCPA has a $33 billion annual economic impact in the Upstate and creates 117,000 jobs in the region. Statewide, SCPA has a $63.4 billion annual economic impact and creates 1 in 10 jobs in South Carolina, or roughly 225,000 jobs statewide.
This means that 52% of the statewide economic impact associated with S.C. Ports is concentrated within the Upstate, Von Nessen said.
“S.C. Ports is one of South Carolina’s most vital resources,” Von Nessen said during a recent unveiling of the study at Inland Port Greer. “Port operations create high-paying jobs and attract port-dependent businesses to locate or expand throughout the state. South Carolina’s success is intrinsically tied to S.C. Ports Authority’s continued growth.”
Port operations account for 10% of the state’s economy and generate $1.1 billion in tax revenue annually for the state, the study found.
Port and port-related jobs pay an average of $57,000, roughly 32% higher than the state’s average income. Port operations and all associated activities correspond to $6.6 billion in wages and salaries for Upstate residents that would otherwise not exist, the study found.
“Over the past 10 years as CEO, I have seen the port grow significantly, which creates a positive impact on our state’s economy and on South Carolinians,” SCPA President and CEO Jim Newsome said in a news release. “The port generates revenue, creates great jobs and helps companies expand in South Carolina.”
S.C. ports move record cargo volumes at oceanside terminals, as well as at two rail-served inland ports in the Upstate and the Pee Dee.
Inland Port Greer handles cargo for customers, and an overnight Norfolk Southern rail service ferries cargo to and from the Port of Charleston. Inland Port Greer extends the port’s reach 212 miles inland, connecting more Southeast and Midwest companies to global markets, the release said. The inland terminal also creates jobs in Greer, attracts companies to locate and expand in the Upstate, and transports more cargo to S.C. ports.
“SCPA supports businesses and manufacturers as they invest in South Carolina,” Von Nessen said in the release. “This ultimately leads to new jobs and higher wages, as well as disposable income being spent in communities and the recruitment of suppliers — all of which propels South Carolina’s economy forward.”
Inland Port Greer opened in 2013 and continues to see record growth year over year, handling 143,204 rail moves in fiscal year 2019. BMW Manufacturing Co., which sits adjacent to the inland terminal, was the launch customer for the state’s first inland port.
“BMW Manufacturing’s success as the country’s largest automotive exporter by value would not be possible without the strong relationship we have with the South Carolina Ports Authority,” Knudt Flor, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing, said in the release. “During our 25 years of production, South Carolina ports have consistently run efficient operations, enabling BMW to export 70% of our South Carolina-made vehicles to more than 125 countries around the world. They have also found creative ways to move our vehicles to customers faster, including overnight rail service from Inland Port Greer to the Port of Charleston. We look forward to continued growth for both BMW and S.C. Ports as we connect customers to BMW and create jobs for South Carolinians.”
The ports in South Carolina continue to be busy, Newsome told GSA Business Report in July, and that includes an expansion of Inland Port Greer, which received a $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to help do it.
The Upstate Express Corridor Capacity Expansion Project will expand the inland port, extend the lead track and lengthen the rail line to approximately 15,100 feet. The expansion includes acquiring additional equipment for the handling, loading and unloading of containers and the paving of up to 40 acres.
BMW, Adidas, Dollar Tree, Michelin, Techtronic and Eastman Chemical are among the large manufacturers who use Inland Port Greer.