By Betsy Finklea
The opportunity that Inland Port Dillon will bring Dillon County and the Pee Dee area was widely discussed at the recent grand opening.
Jim Newsome, President and CEO of the SC Ports Authority, said Inland Port Dillon will extend the logistical capability of the port to the Pee Dee Region in Dillon County.
Newsome said this was very similar to what they did five years ago in Greer. Newsome said they had Councilman T.F. “Buzzy” Finklea, Jr., in Greer on the day the Ports Authority announced the Inland Port Dillon opportunity and followed that up with a ground breaking last March. Newsome aid the facility was built in a year and that is no small accomplishment. Inland Port Dillon is a $50 million investment that fully supports the five planks of the SC Ports Authority strategic plan:
1) Ensuring that the port works well.
2) Investing significantly in infrastructure.
3) Growing their cargo base.
4) Increasing intermodal efficiency (using more rail to move containers).
5) Enhancing the effectiveness of their people.
Newsome said all of this comes into play in this Inland Port facility.
Newsome said the port is about business, jobs, and infrastructure. He said they are adding 18 people to their team, who will be the 18 employees to start in Dillon.
Harbor Freight Tools has committed to over 3 million square feet of distribution space at Inland Port Dillon.
Newsome noted that without his board’s leadership and support that they could not make investments like this.
Newsome said while there was a lot of equipment and infrastructure here, the secret source of the port is the 600 people who work for the port. “It’s good people who make the port effective,” said Newsome.
He said he was very proud of Michael Elmore, the terminal manager of Inland Port Dillon, who is going to run the facility here. He said Elmore was a veteran of the port and one of the best people that they have. He said it was a great opportunity to have him here.
Kellen Riley, manager of Industrial Development for CSX, said this is just the “tip of the iceberg.” He said they are continuously fielding phone calls to coordinate meetings and visits with various industries and numerous customers interested in how Dillon County can support their businesses. He said from a CSX perspective, they see this as another very large piece of a strong freight-built network in the state and knows it will continue that way. He said they look forward to being able to service this industry.
Riley said with the CSX A line, they can access two-thirds of the US population and every major metropolitan market along the East Coast. He said that he knows they have all of the ingredients for a strong endeavor.
Senator Hugh K. Leatherman said that with this facility here, he sees South Carolina investing and continuing to invest in the future. He said this will open up the Pee Dee section of South Carolina to the world. He said this facility is critical to the future of our area and is critical to providing good-paying jobs to our people.
Governor Henry McMaster said this is just the beginning of great things that are going to happen. He said our port is spectacular, and there has been great leadership. “This is what success looks like,” McMaster said.
McMaster said in his position he talks to people all over the world, and they are thrilled with what they see happening in South Carolina and are thrilled with the people of South Carolina.
McMaster said that since he has been in office, there have been 18,000 new jobs created and $5 billion in investment. “We are strong and getting stronger,” said McMaster.
McMaster said they are going to 52 feet deep in the Charleston harbor, and Charleston will be the dominant port on the Atlantic Coast in just a few years. He said they will be deeper than Miami, Norfolk, New York, and New Jersey.
He said South Carolina will have not one, but two, inland ports. He said people in other states do not know what an inland port is, and none have a good one like in Greer.
McMaster said South Carolina is so far ahead in innovation and ideas and hard work and thinking of the rest of the country, it just spells great things for the young people, who can grow up in a place where they can get jobs, have strong families, and prosper. “There is a new kind of prosperity that is coming to South Carolina, and it hasn’t been by accident,” said McMaster. “We’re going right straight to the top.”
By Betsy Finklea