CHARLESTON, SC — OCT. 13, 2022 — South Carolina Ports welcomes its 2022-2023 Class of Port Ambassadors, kicking off a yearlong program that provides a deep understanding of how SC Ports benefits South Carolina’s economy.
J. Todd Davis, President, Benefit Designs, LLC, and former mayor of the City of Dillon, was chosen by Dillon County Council Chairman T.F. “Buzzy” Finklea, Jr., to represent Dillon County. He is the first person to represent Dillon County as a Port Ambassador.
Davis is a native of McBee SC and has lived in Dillon SC the past 45 years. He is married to the former Mary Lynne Cottingham of Dillon and they have two children; Bryan and Jon Michael Davis. Todd is an avid fan of The South Carolina Gamecocks. Bryan graduated from USC in 2022 and Jon Michael is currently at USC.
Davis is a 1986 graduate of Francis Marion University in Florence, SC. He is a longtime business owner in Dillon. He owns and runs Benefit Designs, LLC, a life and health insurance agency. He is also a Registered Representative with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Davis served as Mayor of Dillon from 2003 to 2020. He was selected as a South Carolina Ambassador for Economic Development in 2006 from Governor Mark Sanford. He also a graduate form the South Carolina Economic Developers School in 2007. Davis served as President of the Dillon County Chamber of Commerce from 2000-02. On February 7, 2019 Davis was selected by The Dillon County Chamber of Commerce as the 2018 Citizen of the Year.
Finklea said that he felt that Davis has the right combination of experience to be a real asset to the Port Ambassadors class.
The 2022-2023 Class of Port Ambassadors — an esteemed group of 31 professionals from around the state — will get an in-depth look into port operations. Ambassadors will tour marine terminals, inland ports and customers’ facilities. They will hear from SC Ports teammates, port customers and elected leaders.
Port Ambassadors see firsthand how SC Ports supports the supply chains of many businesses, including retailers, advanced manufacturers, healthcare companies and agricultural producers.
“Our Port Ambassador Program gives South Carolinians a behind-the-scenes look into how our port works and the vital role our maritime community plays in keeping freight moving for Southeast supply chains,” SC Ports President and CEO Barbara Melvin said. “We are proud to showcase how having a top 10 U.S. container port in South Carolina supports businesses and creates jobs.”
The 2022-2023 Class of Port Ambassadors kicked off with a recent visit to SC Ports’ headquarters in Mount Pleasant. Ambassadors learned about key infrastructure projects and day-to-day operations. They toured Wando Welch Terminal and ventured up 155-foot-tall ship-to-shore cranes to gain the perspective of a crane operator loading and unloading ships.
“It is so impactful for our Port Ambassadors to see how port operations support 1 in 10 jobs in South Carolina,” said Jordi Yarborough, SC Ports’ senior vice-president of statewide stakeholders and local government engagement. “We are thrilled to have such an impressive and diverse group of South Carolina leaders learn more about the port, and we are fortunate to benefit from their expertise as well.”
The Port Ambassador Program is designed to increase public awareness and support for SC Ports’ strategic plan and initiatives. Since launching the program in 2016, 113 ambassadors have graduated.
The other 2022-2023 Port Ambassadors include:
• Pat Black, Chairman, Calhoun County Economic Development Board, Cameron, SC
• Leslie Clark, Vice President of Operations, Carolinas AGC, Lexington, SC
• John Clark, Partner, The Clark Law Firm, Sumter, SC
• Dr. Delores Dacosta, Executive Director, SC Commission for Minority Affairs, Columbia, SC
• Rick Danner, Mayor of Greer, City of Greer, Greer, SC
• Kimberlyn Davis, Executive Director, Mother Emanuel Foundation, John’s Island, SC
• Cashion Drolet, Chief Advocacy Officer, Historic Charleston Foundation, Charleston, SC
• Barron Ervin, President, Ervin Engineering, Florence, SC
• Dewey Evans, Senior Associate, Site Selection Group, Greenville, SC
• Bruce Greenberg, Commercial Real Estate Broker, Trinity Partners, Columbia, SC
• Brooks Hearn, Senior Public Relations Manager, Chernoff Newman, Summerville, SC
• Emily Heflin, Business Development Manager, MAU, Greenville, SC
• Jerome Heyward, North Charleston City Council Member and Mayor Pro Temp, City of North Charleston, North Charleston
• Jack Jamison, Principle and Broker-in-Charge, RealtyLink, Greenville, SC
• Kaala Maple, Consultant, Deloitte, Cayce, SC
• James T. “Jim” McCain, Jr., Chairman, Sumter County Council, Sumter, SC
• Richie Murray, Partner, Charter One Realty, Hilton Head, SC
• Joannie Nickel, Legislative & Public Policy Advocate, Municipal Association of SC, Columbia, SC
• Rob Perry, Director of Traffic Engineering, SCDOT, Columbia, SC
• Matt Pickard, Senior Brokerage Associate, Colliers, North Charleston
• Ashley Powell, Deputy County Supervisor, Berkeley County, Summerville, SC
• Daniel Prohaska, President & CEO, Lions Vision Services, Columbia, SC
• Mark Sweatman, Chief of Government Relations & Senior Advisor to the Board, MUSC, Columbia, SC
• Bryan Symmes, Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications, Office of the Governor, Columbia, SC
• John Truluck, Director of Economic Development, Dorchester County Economic Development, Summerville, SC
• John Wall, Counsel, Burr Forman, Columbia, SC
• Marshall West, Berkeley County Councilman, Senior Real Estate Appraiser, Compass South Appraisals, Pinopolis, SC
• Charlton “Chuck” Whipple, Executive Director, Enterprise Campus Authority, Midlands Technical College, Lexington, SC
• Michael Wood, Principle, Asset Integration Consultants, Summerville, SC
• Jonathan Yarborough, Director, Government Affairs & Economic Development, Dominion Energy South Carolina, Columbia, SC
About South Carolina Ports Authority
South Carolina Ports Authority, established by the state’s General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport and intermodal facilities in Charleston, Dillon, Georgetown and Greer. As an economic development engine for the state, Port operations facilitate 225,000 statewide jobs and generate nearly $63.4 billion in annual economic activity. SC Ports is soon to be home to the deepest harbor on the U.S. East Coast at 52 feet. SC Ports is an industry leader in delivering speed-to-market, seamless processes and flexibility to ensure reliable operations, big ship handling, efficient market reach and environmental responsibility. Please visit www.scspa.com to learn more about SC Ports.