A study released today by research economist Joey Von Nessen finds that S.C. port operations create $53 billion in annual economic output in the state and support one in every 11 jobs either directly or indirectly. (Photo/file)
By Liz Segrist
Published Sept. 14, 2015
Port operations in South Carolina generate $53 billion in annual economic output, of which $6.3 billion impacts the Lowcountry economy, according to a new study released today by research economist Joey Von Nessen at the State of the Port address in North Charleston.
The study also found one in every 11 jobs in the state can be attributed directly or indirectly to the S.C. State Ports Authority.
|S.C. State Ports Authority President and CEO Jim Newsome said the ports authority must invest $1.3 billion in infrastructure projects by 2020. (Photo/Liz Segrist) |
Port study highlights
Source: S.C. State Ports Authority, University
To continue growth, Newsome said the ports authority must invest $1.3 billion by 2020 to complete the Navy base terminal, improve infrastructure at the Wando Wharf Terminal in Mount Pleasant and invest in taller container cranes and stronger wharfs at terminals to handle bigger ships.
The ports authority plans to borrow funding for its planned projects, as well as increase earnings by raising rates and bringing more cargo through the port, Newsome said.
Also by 2020, Newsome said the first phase of the Navy Base Terminal in North Charleston needs to be operational and the Charleston Harbor needs to be deepened to 52 feet.
Newsome also said he plans to streamline or restructure operations at the agency and improve its culture going forward.
Von Nessen of the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business studied the total economic impact from port users — all business activities at S.C. firms that require a port facility to be completed — and port operations during the 2014 calendar year.
The ports authority operates five terminals in the Charleston region and has a sixth under construction at the old Navy Base in North Charleston. It also operates an Inland Port in Greer and a terminal in Georgetown.
Von Nessen said the port’s presence in South Carolina influences the state’s long-term economic development efforts, particularly for export-focused clusters like advanced manufacturing.
“An industry cluster will not get up and leave the state as easily as one firm would, so it is important to have strong clusters,” Von Nessen said.
The study found that the port “is responsible for nearly 23,000 jobs” in the Lowcountry region. Those workers infuse more than $1.2 billion from their incomes back into the regional economy each year, data show.
“By the end of the decade we will achieve the deepest harbor on the East Coast, open a new container terminal on the former Charleston Navy Base and modernize our existing facilities,” Ports Authority Board Chairman Bill Stern said in a statement. “We are well-positioned to achieve strong volume growth that will benefit not only our port, but the entire state.”
Reach staff writer Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119 or @lizsegrist on Twitter.