South Carolina’s port traffic reached an all-time high during the 2017 fiscal year.
The state Ports Authority (SCPA) on Wednesday reported it moved a record 2.14 million 20-foot equivalent units between July 2016 and June 2017, a 10 percent increase compared with the previous year.
SCPA said the volume at its Inland Port in Spartanburg County near Greer finished the year having completed a record 121,761 rail moves, a 33 percent increase compared with fiscal year 2016.
“We had a strong fiscal year, reflective of a capable and hardworking SCPA team and entire maritime community,” said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of SCPA, in a statement. “Such growth enables the port to continue to make the necessary investments in equipment and infrastructure to support the big ships being deployed to the East Coast today.”
According to a study by the American Association of Port Authorities, the Port of Charleston ranked first among the country’s top 10 ports in terms of the percentage of volume grow between 2011 and 2016.
A spokeswoman for SCPA said the authority expects to continue growing during the 2018 fiscal year.
In June, the authority’s board adopted a financial plan for the coming year that projects 6 percent pier container growth, $251.1 million in operating revenues, $44.1 million in operating earnings, and $263 million in capital expenditures.
Those expenditures include $54 million for construction of the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal in North Charleston, $86.3 million in upgrades to the Wando Welch Terminal, $32.2 million for the construction of the state’s second inland port in Dillon County, $23.3 million for the construction of SCPA’s new corporate office, and other projects.
The Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal will be completed in 2020. Inland Port Dillon will open in the spring of 2018, the authority said.
“The Port’s FY2018 financial plan reflects continued success of our state port system, both in volume growth and progress of key capital markets,” said SCPA’s chairwoman Pamela Lackey, in a statement. “This fiscal year will be an extremely significant period for the port, marking the beginning of harbor deepening construction, completion of the Wando terminal wharf project, and continued construction of the Leatherman terminal. We are well-positioned to build upon South Carolina’s economic development successes and remain competitive in the evolving landscape of the U.S. port industry.”
A 2015 study by the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business said port operations generate $53 billion in annual economic activity and support 187,600 jobs statewide.
In the Upstate, port operations have a $26.8 billion economic impact and support 94,500 jobs, the study said.