By Betsy Finklea
The economic impact of the South Carolina Ports Authority on the Pee Dee area and the State of South Carolina was the topic of a luncheon held at the Florence Center recently.
Dr. Joseph Von Nesson, a research economist and professor at the University of South Carolina Darla Moore School of Business, said since his last study in 2019, the economic impact had grown substantially generating a $9.7 billion economic impact on the Pee Dee region.
Dr. Von Nesson said that “SC Ports is a principal asset of South Carolina’s economy.” The reasons for this state are that: 1) “SC Ports facilitates the business activities of industries that are primarily responsible for South Carolina’s long-run economic growth.” The SC Ports facilitates the business activities of advanced manufacturing and retail and distribution-based businesses. From 2010-2022, the total employment growth in advanced manufacturing in the state grew 94.9 percent. The growth of advanced manufacturing is doing better that other growth in South Carolina having doubled in size. This is export-oriented and is not possible without the SC Ports.
Dr. Von Nesson then discussed population growth trends. According to the projected population growth by U.S. Region for 2022-2040, “The Southeastern United States is projected to experience more population gains than any other U.S. region through the year 2040,” Dr. Von Nesson said. He further stated that “South Carolina’s rate of population growth accelerated faster than any other state following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, from +1.0 percent to +1.7 percent.” The population growth means that more people will be looking to the southeast for goods.
The second major point that Dr. Von Nesson made is “SC Ports maintains a sizable economic footprint that extends all across South Carolina.”
The economic impact on the state is up 37 percent since the last study in 2019. The total employment in South Carolina is 260,020. The total labor income is $17.6 billion, and the total economic impact on the state is $86.7 billion. Dr. Von Nesson said that SC Ports supports, directly or indirectly, one out of every nine jobs in South Carolina. In the Pee Dee region, SC Ports has a $9.7 billion impact and supports, directly or indirectly, one out of every 12 jobs in the nine-county Pee Dee region Dr. Von Nesson said, “The sizable economic impact of SC Ports derives from its support of local business. He continued saying 73.2 percent of “cargo exported through SC Ports originates from companies located in South Carolina.”
The third major point that Dr. Von Nesson made was “SC Ports supports high quality, high wage jobs.” He said the wage premium associated with all jobs supported by SC Ports increased by 22.8 percent in the state. “More than one third (36 percent) of all jobs currently supported directly or indirectly by SC Ports are held by women and minorities. This represents approximately 93,771 jobs across South Carolina.
The fourth major point he brought out is “SC Ports improves the competitive landscape of the Southeastern U.S.” He said that “businesses located in South Carolina’s neighboring states also use S.C.’s port facilities, which further increases the total impact by nearly 12 percent.” The total economic impact on the Southeastern United States is $96.8 billion. This includes a total employment of 298,568 and a total labor income of $19.5 billion.
Dr. Von Nesson said that all of these statistics support the idea that “SC Ports is a principal asset of South Carolina’s economy.”
After Dr. Von Nesson’s presentation, a panel discussion was held moderated by Byron Miller, S.C. Ports Chief Commercial Officer and VP of Marketing. Panelists were Terence Anderson, Harbor Freight Tools General Manager, Leslie Thompson, C&M Grains Co-owner; and Bob Reinecke, South Carolina Ports Manager, Sales.
Leslie Thompson, co-owner of C&M Grain, spoke about the impact that Inland Port Dillon has had on her operation and on local farmers in the area. (See related story.)
Terence Anderson, General Manager of Harbor Freight, said since 2018 when the port came to Dillon County, Harbor Freight expanded from 2.2 million sq. ft. to 3.4 million sq. ft. They went from 880 associates to 2,300 associates, and they went from serving 250 Harbor Freight stores to 755 stores serviced from that distribution center. He said Inland Port Dillon had been a lifeline for them and had changed the dynamic of how they serve the community.
By Betsy Finklea