Growth in the Upstate’s manufacturing sector continues to be a boon for the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA).
During SCPA’s annual State of the Port meeting on Monday in Charleston, the agency’s President and CEO Jim Newsome the Inland Port in Spartanburg County near Greer handled more than 120,000 rail lifts during the 2017 fiscal year.
When the facility launched operations in 2013, Newsome said he thought it could complete 100,000 moves by its fifth year.
“There’s no substitute to big manufacturing,” Newsome said. “We had a good feeling that [the Inland Port] would be successful, but we had no idea what kind of volume it would do.”
Newsome said some of the Inland Port’s primary users include Spartanburg-based BMW Manufacturing Co., Greenville-based Michelin North America, and discount retailer Dollar Tree’s new 1.5 million-square-foot distribution center near Cowpens.
The Inland Port enables goods to be shipped overnight via rail between the Upstate and the Port of Charleston.
He said BMW, which is producing an average of about 1,500 vehicles per day, has expanded its Semi-Knocked Down (SKD) and Completely-Knocked Down (CKD) operations next to the Inland Port.
Those operations allow the automaker to ship vehicle kits to emerging markets across the globe for final assembly.
The 5 million-square-foot plant, which is BMW’s largest plant in the world in terms of volume, is the production hub of the Germany-based company’s light truck models, including the X3, X4, X5, X6, and soon-to-be X7.
Newsome said the automaker comprises less than half of the Inland Port’s business today, whereas it accounted for most of the facility’s business four years ago.
He said the facility is continuing to attract interest from manufacturers in the Upstate and neighboring states.
Newsome said SCPA still has property available at Inland Port site to support expansion.
The Ports Authority has also purchased property across the street from the facility to support its chassis pooling program.
Under the program, SCPA will collect, store, and maintain chassis that carry cargo containers.
“We are really excited about the future of [the Inland Port] Greer,” Newsome said.
SCPA said the Port of Charleston handled a record 2.14 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) during the year, an increase of 10 percent compared to the previous fiscal year.
Approximately 23 percent of the port’s container volume was moved via intermodal rail.
Please check back later for more on this developing story.