By Betsy Finklea
A luncheon was held recently, hosted by the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce, to highlight the impact of the South Carolina Ports Authority on the Pee Dee Region.
Michael Miller, president of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the audience.
Mark Buyck, board member of the S.C. Ports Authority, gave the invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
A delicious lunch was served. Guests enjoyed Caesar salad with Parmesan cheese, croutons, and creamy Caesar dressing; chicken piccata with rice pilaf and roasted carrots; rolls and butter; and a choice of Tuxedo cake or Southern pecan pie.
After lunch, Senator Hugh Leatherman made remarks about the impact of the SCPA on the region and the state.
This was followed by Jim Newsome, President and CEO of the S.C. Ports Authority. A video was shown about S.C. Ports. It was noted in the video that Inland Port Dillon extends SCPA’s reach 163 miles inland. Also, in Fiscal year 2019, Inland Port Dillon’s first full year in operation, there were 30,000 rail moves.
Newsome said that they had recently celebrated Ports Week. Approximately 900 people attended the State of the Port address. He said the port has differentiated itself with harbor deepening.
He discussed the $500 million investment in equipment. He said the thing that sets them apart is the quality of people that work for them.
Newsome said they have doubled their size on the backs of advanced manufacturing in the state.
Newsome gave some of the reasons that they located an inland port in Dillon He said first, an anchor tenant is needed which they had with Harbor Freight Tools. He said 80 percent of their distribution is done through Inland Port Dillon. He said they need Class One Railroad Service, a critical component. Dillon County has a CSX A line. It also has the advantage of being on the North Carolina border.
Newsome said if they had waited two years, he doesn’t think they would have had this opportunity.
Another factor in bringing the inland port to Dillon was local leadership. Among these he gave credit to were the Dillon County leadership and the Marlboro Electric Coop team. He said there is “lots of opportunity” there, and they are just getting started.
Newsome noted there was a staff of 18 at Inland Port Dillon.
Newsome presented Dr. Joey Von Nessen of the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.
Von Nessen presented his findings on the impact on the Pee Dee and the state.
The key takeaway of Von Nessen’s results is “South Carolina’s seaports represent a principal asset for the state’s economy.”
Among his key points were:
• The SCPA represents the foundation of South Carolina’s global economic footprint.
Von Nessen said that advanced manufacturing was overwhelmingly driving South Carolina’s growth having increased over 100% during a period from 2010-2018. He said advanced manufacturing has been driving the growth across the southeastern United States. He said that the port provides the necessary resources to enable the growth that has been seen.
In 2018, advanced manufacturing accounted for 65 percent of the total export activity in South Carolina.
• The SCPA provides a sizable economic impact for South Carolina.
The total economic output is $60,494,978, 614 related to port operations and business activity related to the port.
The employment is 211,9-4 jobs and the labor income generated is $12,399,699,966. One in every 10 South Carolina jobs is related directly or indirectly to the port. 9.7 percent of the state’s economy is driven directly or indirectly by the ports authority.
The impact by region in South Carolin is as follows:
—Pee Dee Region—$6.7 billion (11.1%)
—Upstate—$52.1 billion (31.5%)
—Midlands—$24.5 billion (14.8 percent)
—Lowcountry—$12.3 billion (7.4%)
In the Pee Dee, the employment related directly or indirectly to the port is 23,406, and the labor income is $1,376, 102, 553.
• The SCPA directly supports sectors that create and maintain high wage jobs that experience wage growth.
The SCPA supports the shipping needs of the manufacturing industry. Manufacturing is a high demand sector that generates high wages and high incomes.
• The SCPA improves the competitve landscape of the Southeastern United States.
In the Southeastern United States, the total economic impact related to the port is $81.9 billion.
Photos by Johnnie Daniels/The Dillon Herald
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