SCPA makes a $33 billion annual economic impact in the Upstate

S.C. ports
Port operations support 1 in 10 jobs for South Carolinians.

Half of South Carolina Ports Authority’s economic impact is happening right here in the Upstate.

According to a new Economic Impact Study from the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, SCPA makes a $33 billion annual economic impact in the Upstate and creates 117,000 jobs in the region

SCPA makes a $63.4 billion annual economic impact and creates one in 10 S.C. jobs, or roughly 225,000 jobs statewide.

“S.C. Ports Authority has further established itself as one of our state’s premier economic drivers, creating 1 in 10 jobs and a $63.4 billion economic impact on South Carolina,” Gov. Henry McMaster said in a news release.

Statewide, SCPA operations and all associated activities correspond to nearly 225,000 jobs and $12.8 billion in wages and salaries for South Carolinians that would otherwise not exist.

“S.C. Ports is one of South Carolina’s most vital resources,” said Joey Von Nessen, the study author and research economist at the University of South Carolina. “Port operations create high-paying jobs and attract port-dependent businesses to locate or expand throughout the state.”

Port operations account for 10% of the state’s economy and generate $1.1 billion in tax revenue annually for the state, the study found.

“this growth enables S.C. Ports to make a positive, lasting impact on our state’s economy and on South Carolinians,”Jim Newsome said, scpa president and ceo.

“S.C. Ports is a tremendous asset for the state,” SCPA Board Chairman Bill Stern said. “Its role of moving cargo between South Carolina and global markets leads to job creation and industry recruitment.”

Stern continued to say that many of the state’s biggest economic development wins would not have come to fruition without the Port.

SCPA has doubled its cargo volume over the past decade; much of that growth stems from an increase in imports and exports tied to South Carolina’s boom in advanced manufacturing.

“S.C. Ports’s rapid expansion over the past decade occurred in part by facilitating the advanced manufacturing boom,” Von Nessen said. “SCPA supports businesses and manufacturers as they invest in South Carolina.”

Von Nessen said that the manufacturing boom ultimately leads to new jobs and higher wages, as well as disposable income being spent in communities and the recruitment of suppliers — all of which propels S.C.’s economy forward.

Buoyed by the cargo growth over the past decade, S.C. Ports now looks to further diversify its cargo base, particularly with retailers and distribution centers.

SCPA will also complete major infrastructure projects by the end of 2021 — upgrading infrastructure and equipment at Wando Welch Terminal, building the new Hugh K. Leatherman Sr. Terminal in North Charleston and deepening Charleston Harbor to 52 feet.

“The dedication and expertise exhibited by SCPA and the entire maritime community ensures we are the preferred U.S. port for customers, and our investment in critical infrastructure ensures we remain globally competitive and capable of handling large, cargo-laden ships,” SCPA President and CEO Jim Newsome said. “Over the past 10 years as CEO, I have seen the Port grow significantly.”

About SCPA makes a $33 billion annual economic impact in the Upstate


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