Inland Port Makes $33 Billion Annual Economic Impact in the Upstate

South Carolina Ports Authority’s reach goes well beyond the Port of Charleston with more than half of its economic impact happening in the Upstate.

S.C. Ports Authority (SCPA) makes a $33 billion annual economic impact in the Upstate and creates 117,000 jobs in the region, according to a new Economic Impact Study from the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business.
Statewide, S.C. Ports makes a $63.4 billion annual economic impact and creates 1 in 10 S.C. jobs, 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, said Joey Von Nessen, research economist at the University of South Carolina and the study author.
“S.C. Ports is one of South Carolina’s most vital resources,” Von Nessen said. “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.
“S.C. Ports Authority has further established itself as one of our state’s premier economic drivers, creating 1 in 10 jobs and a $63.4 billion annual economic impact on South Carolina,” Gov. Henry McMaster said.
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. “The Port generates revenue, creates great jobs and helps companies expand in South Carolina.”
Inland Port Greer’s impact
S.C. Ports moves 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 inland terminal also creates jobs in Greer, attracts companies to locate and expand in the Upstate, and brings more cargo to S.C. Ports.
“SCPA supports businesses and manufacturers as they invest in South Carolina,” Von Nessen said. “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 S.C.’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,” said Knudt Flor, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing. “During our 25 years of production, S.C. Ports has 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.”
S.C. Ports plans to further grow and diversify its cargo base, in part by supporting economic development and furthering growth at the state’s inland ports.
SCPA remains focused on completing major infrastructure projects by the end of 2021, including modernizing Wando Welch Terminal, building the Hugh K. Leatherman Sr. Terminal in North Charleston and deepening Charleston Harbor to 52 feet.
“S.C. Ports ensures S.C.-based companies can reliably move cargo to customers around the world and quickly receive materials needed to operate their businesses,” said S.C. Rep. Bill Sandifer, vice chairman of the Review and Oversight Commission of S.C. Ports Authority. “The Port’s continued investment in infrastructure and operations will bring even more economic prosperity to South Carolina, and the Upstate will undoubtedly benefit from this growth.”
Read the full study here. Learn more about the statewide economic impact here.