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  September 23rd, 2016 | Written by

SCPA Looking Forward to Robust 2017

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  • Establishment of retail distribution centers will be a driver of port growth in South Carolina.
  • SCPA's Inland Port Greer handled record rail moves in August.
  • The port of Charleston achieved volume growth in spite of an overall slowing of world trade.

South Carolina Ports Authority CEO Jim Newsome recently delivered his annual State of the Port speech, noting that SCPA posted increases in containerized and breakbulk cargo at its Charleston facilities in fiscal year 2016 amid challenges in the world economy.

The port’s container volume grew 1.4 percent fiscal year over year, and non-containerized cargo handled in Charleston exceeded planned tonnage by 33 percent. Continued growth of intermodal rail drove record-setting volumes at Inland Port Greer, which handled 91,698 rail moves in FY2016.

“The port achieved growth of volumes and operating earnings in spite of an overall slowing of world trade,” Newsome said. “We also accomplished significant progress on numerous critical projects—modernization of the Wando Welch Terminal wharf, implementation of an advanced gate system that enables us to efficiently handle that facility’s growing cargo volumes, continued fill activity and other construction work on the Hugh K. Leatherman, Sr. Terminal, and enhancements to refrigerated cargo handling capabilities at both container terminals.”

The SCPA also reported its strongest August container volumes on record, handling 180,153 TEU, a year-over-year increase of 5.6 percent. With 357,420 TEUs moved during the first two months of the 2017 fiscal year, the port’s container volume is up 3.4 percent.

As measured in boxes handled, SCPA also broke previous August volume records by moving 101,125 boxes last month. Fiscal year-to-date pier container volume is up three percent, with 201,492 boxes handled since the year began in July.

“August was a stronger month for the port, particularly in loaded container volume,” Jim Newsome. “I expect to see similar growth over the next few months, as the fall is a traditionally strong season.”

In non-containerized cargo, SCPA handled 56,744 pier tons in August. Fiscal year to date, Charleston has handled 127,518 tons of breakbulk cargo across its docks.

August also marked a record month for Inland Port Greer, with 9,392 rail moves handled during the month. Fiscal year-to-date volumes are up 12 percent compared to the same period last year, with 16,695 rail moves in July and August.

In the year ahead, Newsome expects the southeastern port market to continue to enjoy strong volume growth relative to the overall U.S. market, supported by foreign-direct investment in manufacturing as well as a steadily increasing consumer market.

For SCPA, the automotive industry will remain a bright spot both in the coming fiscal year and long-term, with the opening of the Volvo North America plant. Establishment of retail distribution centers, such as the Dollar Tree facility in Cowpens, will also be a driver of growth enabled by the port’s inland facilities. SCPA will build upon the success of Inland Port Greer with the construction a second inland facility in Dillon, South Carolina, that will open by the end of 2017.