The cooperation of a number of entities was a key part to bringing the inland port to Dillon County.
Cooperation is also a key factor that is considered for the S.C. Association of Counties Barrett Lawrimore Regional Cooperation Award for which Dillon County was a contender at the SCAC’s annual conference earlier this month. This was the 20th year that the association has held its annual competition for this award.
County Administrator Rodney Berry made the presentation for the award in front of a panel of judges including: Head Judge-William E. Tomes, Fellow, Joseph P. Riley, Jr., Center for Livable Communities, College of Charleston; Dr. Bruce Ransom, Professor and Chair of the Policy Studies Program, Strom Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs, Clemson University; and Paula E. Sanford, Ph.D., Public Service and Outreach Faculty Member, Carl Vinson Institute of Government, University of Georgia.
At the General Session for SCAC’s Annual Conference, Tomes briefly described the 10 entries that were submitted in this J. Mitchell Graham/Barrett Lawrimore Memorial Awards Competition. As SCAC President Armstrong presented plaques to each county that participated, she thanked and congratulated representatives who accepted the plaques on behalf of their counties.
Dillon County worked with numerous partners to develop property located next to CSX Transportation’s main rail line and I-95. The Inland Port will offer shippers more efficient means of transporting their international cargo to and from the port. It will also provide positive and long-term quality of life changes for the region and the state.
The following information on Inland Port Dillon is taken from the written presentation prepared by County Administrator Berry and GIS Coordinator Melissa Thompson. This does not represent the written portion in its entirety or the oral presentation given by County Administrator Berry at the conference.
On April 20, 2016, the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) announced plans to pursue the Dillon Inland Port, a second inland port facility, driven by tremendous success of its South Carolina Inland Port (SCIP) in Greer, South Carolina and demand for enhanced efficiency of international container movements between the Port of Charleston and growing markets in South Carolina and North Carolina. The Dillon Inland Port will extend the Port of Charleston’s (Port) reach 160 miles inland to Dillon, South Carolina, and provide shippers with access to more consumers through the construction on an inland port facility providing overnight double-stack rail service. The Dillon Inland Port will do this by enabling a high-capacity (double-stack) rail shuttle operation via existing CSX main line tracks between Dillon and the Port. In effect, the Dillon Inland Port will bring the Port to the front yard of major South Carolina and regional shippers and distributors. This will provide increased flexibility for inland distribution, providing new Port access to CSX, a major Class I carrier, and an effective extension of on-port operations to a satellite area, freeing up capacity within the Port itself. The Dillon Inland Port will bring significant benefits to the local Dillon economy, and Economically Distressed Area (EDA), by providing improved connectivity to the Port, increasing accessibility for regional manufacturers and leveraging Dillon’s current location as a warehousing and distribution cluster.
With no rail option today, shippers around Dillon, South Carolina are only able to move their products to and from the Dillon region, including North Carolina, in shipping containers carried by trucks operating on I-95 to and from the Port. Containers that come through the Port are transported by rail through CSX’s main rail lines to points southeast and in the mid-west, and not to or through the Dillon region. While CSX’s main line runs through Dillon, little to no port related cargo is transported over the CSX rail lines to or through Dillon. Thus, international shippers in the Dillon County region that need their goods moved to or from the Port are required to pay for two truck trips per container (one trip with a loaded container and another with and empty container) plus accessorial charges associated with the trucking.
SCPA, together with its partners at the State of South Carolina, Dillon, the City of Dillon, the North Eastern Strategic Alliance, South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, South Carolina Manufacturers Alliances, South Carolina Department of Transportation, South Carolina Department of Commerce, Dillon County Department of Planning and Zoning, CSX Transportation, Duke Energy, and Marlboro Electric Cooperative as well as shippers who currently transport their products to and from the Port, are working together to develop property in Dillon strategically located next to CSX’s main line and I-95. The Dillon Inland Port will offer shippers in the region more efficient means of transporting their international cargo to and from the Port. Once the Dillon Inland Prot is constructed, shippers located on the I-95 corridor in South Carolina and North Carolina will have the option to transport their imports and exports by rail through the CSX network between Dillon and the Port, rather than by long haul truck. Trucks will only need to make the short move of containers between the Dillon facility and the shippers’ distribution centers.
The cost-effectiveness for shippers, reduction in emissions, and mitigation of truck traffic demonstrated by the Greer project proved that the inland port model for short-haul intermodal rail meets economic, business, and community performance goals. Dillon was identified as a potential inland port site due to the expansion of International Paper’s Riegelwood manufacturing plant, and the possibility of an expansion of Harbor Freight Tools’ distribution facility. For an inland port to succeed, import cargo must be matched with export cargo. International Paper’s expansion of 19,000 additional containers annually provides new export capacity that is matched by Harbor Freight Tools’ expansion of their import container volume to approximately 20,000 containers per year. With two-way rail traffic feasible in this manner (similar volumes of International Paper’s goods outbound matching Harbor Freight Tools; inbound goods), SCPA worked with CSX to operationalize the required rail service to and from Dillon and the Port, based on a forecast of 35,000 containers in the Dillon Inland Port’s first year of operation (2018) split more or less equally between import and export containers, and 10,000 domestic and 25,000 international containers.
The written report discusses how the project is coordinated with Dillon County’s economic development efforts.
SCPA is approaching the Dillon Inland Port project in phases. Phase 1. Upon opening of Phase 1 to operations, the Dillon Inland Port is anticipated to handle 35,000 containers in its first year (25,000 international units and 10,000 domestic units). Phase 2 would account for modest, organic growth to 50,000 containers per year, and Phase 3 would increase the footprint to full build-out based on economic development activity and continued success of the facility. Additional expansions and equipment acquisition to accommodate this anticipated growth may likely be needed beyond Phase 1 of the Inland Port’s development.
The Dillon Inland Port will directly benefit shippers. The Dillon Inland Port will build on Harbor Freight Tools and International Paper, the base of shippers local to Dillon. Other nearby consumer goods distribution facilities (QVC, Rooms to Go), consumer goods manufacturers (Dillon Yarn Corporation, Quickie Manufacturing, Coty), pulp and paper manufacturing (America Chung Nam, Domtar, Sonoco Recycling), and pork and poultry producers (Perdue, Smithfield) may also take advantage of the new inland port facility.
The Project Sponsor, SCPA, benefits from supportive communities, customers, and government agencies, and is partnering with multiple entities to implement the Dillon Inland Port as key asset for enhancing mobility, the regional, national, and international economy, safety, and jobs and environmental benefits for the disadvantaged population in and around Dillon. The project is sponsored by the South Carolina State Ports Authority and supported by: Port users and shippers in the Dillon region; CSX Transportation, a funding partner; Duke Energy, a funding partner; Marlboro Electric Cooperative, Inc., a funding partner; Dillon County; City of Dillon; State of South Carolina (Former Governor Nikki R. Haley); South Carolina Department of Transportation; South Carolina Department of Commerce; North Eastern Strategic Alliance; South Carolina Chamber of Commerce; South Carolina Manufacturers’ Alliance; Review and Oversight Commission on the South Carolina Ports Authority (Chairman Lawrence K. Grooms); and local, state and federal elected officials.
Dillon County, together with the North East Strategic Alliance (NESA), a regional economic development alliance, SCPA, and other partners have coordinated their efforts to bring the Dillon Inland Port to fruition. The vision and planning for the I-95 Carolinas Super Park Mega Site was always focused on providing industrial distribution center facilities at the site for manufacturing clients due to its logistical advantages and the shared desire to improve the regional economy. As a major tenant of the I-95 Carolinas Super Park Mega Site, the Dillon Inland Port will catalyze these plans to bring logistics-oriented companies to Dillon County and industrial parks adjoining the Dillon Inland Port, but also to the region and the state.
The Dillon Inland Port builds on local, state, and federally-supported land use planning and economic development decisions that have carried out the development of the I-95 Carolinas Super Park Mega Site. Grant funds from the State of South Carolina, NESA, the U.S. Economic Development Administration, federal Community Development Block Grants and other programs have been utilized to develop infrastructure in accordance with environmental documents, including the South Carolina Department of Commerce’s Master Report – Certified Site for the Dillon County I-95 Industrial Park and Phase I Environmental Site Assessment for the site. Investments in the I-95 Carolinas Super Park Mega Site include approximately $400,000 for site certifications, re-certifications, and environmental due diligence, $1.35 million for property acquisitions and options, $2.5 million for road infrastructure improvements, $2 million for water infrastructure improvements, and $5 million for wastewater infrastructure improvements. In this way, the Dillon Inland Park is being developed in coordination with nearly $11.25 million in total public and private investments derived from land use planning and economic development decisions, exclusive of soft costs such as legal fees, park maintenance, and staff time.
The Dillon Inland Port will provide positive and long-term quality of life changes in terms of jobs, economic development, and “Ladders of Opportunity” to the Dillon region. It will also bring about such positive quality of life changes to residents and businesses in the local communities surrounding the Port of Charleston.
Dillon County, benefits from supportive communities, customers, and government agencies, and is partnering with multiple entities to implement the Dillon Inland Port as a key asset for enhancing mobility, the regional, national, and international economy, safety, and jobs and environmental benefits for the disadvantaged population in and around Dillon. Additional support is provided by elected officials, private partners, and local jurisdictions.
The cooperation of a number of entities was a key part to bringing the inland port to Dillon County.