July 1, 2022

State of SC Port Address reflects growth and new projects

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) — The South Carolina Ports Authority is tied to one in 10 jobs in South Carolina and has created nearly 10,000 direct jobs, port officials say.

This number is expected to increase as new projects are underway.

SC Ports Authority CEO and Chairman Jim Newsome delivered the State of the Port address on Wednesday. It was the first time the event was held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. He was joined by other professionals and industry experts to reflect on the year and talk about the future of the Port Authority.

Newsome said the port was on track for a banner year financially until the pandemic hit. He says they have been able to maintain operations throughout the pandemic and still have significant accomplishments.

“As we look to 2020 as I said, we shouldn’t be deterred by the pandemic,” Newsome said. We were at a record pace. The pandemic happened and we worked on it transparently.

SC Port Authority says it continues to attract new business, which secures its position as America’s favorite container port.

Port officials say they are investing more than $2 billion to build world-class infrastructure to continue to accommodate large ships.

Next year the Hugh Leatherman Terminal will open. It will be the first new container terminal in the United States in over a decade. It sits along the Cooper River Bridge in North Charleston. Port officials say this will allow them to handle growing cargo volumes and large ships, keeping South Carolina globally competitive.

Longshoreman Leonard Riley is one of thousands of people in the state who have port-related jobs. He is also part of the International Longshoreman’s Association.

“We are excited about the port’s growth,” Riley said. “A growing port means more jobs, more opportunities, more benefits in our plan. We are delighted to have anticipated this over the past few years.

The Port of Charleston dependent project is also on track to deepen the harbor to 52 feet by summer 2022. This will allow the harbor to accommodate larger vessels regardless of the tides.

“A real achievement for the port that has allowed us to have the deepest port on the East Coast,” Newsome said.

Riley says he hopes automation doesn’t eliminate too many jobs.

“My main concern is that we keep good paying jobs,” Riley said. “Where there are well-paying jobs, there is a healthy family, there are good educational opportunities.”

During his speech, Newsome also touched on other major activities for the next year, including the port’s work to secure a long-term cruise presence, the revitalization of the Wando terminal, the development of an industrial campus of Ridgeville, a new financial system and a plan to implement a new chassis pool model among others.

The Harbor State Address was hosted by the Propeller Club of Charleston.

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