By Betsy Finklea
Northeastern Technical College and the S.C. Ports Authority were highlighted at The Dillon County Public-Private Partnership Annual Industry Appreciation Luncheon and golf outing held recently at Twin Lakes Country Club.
This was the 26th year of the annual Industry Appreciation activities.
Mike Tyler of the Dillon County Public-Private Partnership gave the welcome. Haywood Proctor of the Dillon County Public-Private Partnership and pastor of Kemper Baptist Church gave the blessing of the food.
Guests then enjoyed prime rib prepared by Charles Taylor along with side dishes and dessert.
The first guest speaker was Dr. Kyle Wagner, president of Northeastern Technical College. Dr. Wagner said that we are on the edge of so much opportunity in Dillon County.
Dr. Wagner said one of the things he was stressing was the need to service the people who live in the area and the industry located there. He said two of the things they consider are: Does it promote student success? Can it move the community forward?
Dr. Wagner said they are aggressively going after grants. He said they identified $1.2 million they are spending on twenty-first century technology. He said $350,000 was used to purchase equipment to train students in advanced manufacturing and mechatronics.
He said in Marlboro County they are opening a new campus and will have space for industries to set up and start training today.
He said they are restructuring and adding two positions in Dillon County -a recruiter and a continuing education specialist- who will be housed here in Dillon and working at the campus here.
Dr. Wagner said he wants the workforce in Dillon County to be ready to go.
Dr. Wagner said that the number one problem that NETC has in Dillon County is that they need square footage and buildings to train students. He said they are working hard and uncovering every rock.
NETC recently rolled out a new program called “One Semester To Work.” He said the first class completes in July. It involves 21 students who attend classes four nights a week. A job fair is being held June 27th. He said they have students who are sharp and motivated.
Dr. Wagner said he is excited to be part of this. He said he wants the community to get jobs and they have to get the community ready for the jobs. He said he wants the community to prosper like it should be prospering. He said the inland port is a huge opportunity for every one of us.
The next guest speaker was Jack Ellenberg, Senior Vice-President of Strategic Projects with the South Carolina Ports Authority.
Ellenberg said the South Carolina Ports Authority was absolutely thrilled to be a part of the Dillon community.
Ellenberg said the port is in the business of driving cargo. He said they need business to locate in the area and a trained workforce.
Ellenberg introduced the colleagues who accompanied him. They included Steve Kemp, Senior Director-Terminal Strategy; Tim Sherman, Facilities Manager at the South Carolina State Ports Authority; Michael Elmore, who will be the terminal manager at Inland Port Dillon; and Micah Mallace, manager of strategic projects.
Ellenberg said they had the support of tremendous partners here including Dillon County, the City of Dillon, NESA, Duke Energy, and Marlboro Electric.
Ellenberg said that the port “keeps freight moving.” The Port of Charleston is the primary point of entry. He said the Ports Authority is growing at a phenomenal pace. He said the volume grew 45 percent between 2011 and 2016. He says this shows the importance the Port of Charleston plays in the southeast and the East Coast. Rail volume is up 170 percent. Some of their business is also heavily dependent on trucking.
Ellenberg said every month in 2017 they have broken volume records.
Ellenberg said Inland Port Greer has had phenomenal success.
Ellenberg said the biggest container ship to ever call on the East Coast, COSCO Development, came to Charleston Harbor in May.
Ellenberg said in the next four years the S.C. Ports Authority will be investing a great deal of money in the amount of $2.15 billion. This will include $770 million for the Leatherman Terminal-Phase One, $40 million for Inland Port Dillon, $560 million for other infrastructure and IT projects, $300 million for Harbor Deepening to 52 feet, $200 million for the Leatherman Terminal Access Road, and $289 million for the new dual access intermodal railhead. He spoke about their vision for 2020 which includes Phase I of the Leatherman Terminal Open, Charleston as the deepest port on the East Coast at 52 feet, and the new dual-served rail terminal open.
Ellenberg said when they opened Inland Port Greer, it was an untested model. They hit their five-year target in one year of operations.
Ellenberg said the Inland Port Dillon project didn’t happen overnight. He said it started about two years ago, when Ellenberg was tasked with finding a location for a second inland port.
Factors considered included the presence of a launch customer, access to a class one railroad, and interstate access.
The project was code-named Project Pedro.
Ellenberg said Inland Port Dillon will not be like Inland Port Greer because it is a different market.
Potential Inland Port customers that have been identified include Harbor Freight Tools, Coty, Domtar, Perdue, Smithfield, QVC, Rooms To Go, Gildan, and American Chung Nam.
He said they expect to be very busy. Inland Port Dillon is on track for a Quarter One 2018 opening. They are designing the port first, and at the time of this meeting, it was 25 to 30 percent designed. He said they are actually starting construction.
Ellenberg said there is a great deal of opportunity for Inland Port Dillon. They expect it to be a success, want it to be a success, and are here to be a success.
Photos by Johnnie Daniels/The Dillon Herald
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