Inland Ports Place Charleston in Competitive Position


Area on cutting edge with inland hubs

Monday, April 14, 2008

Wade Spees – The Post and Courier

Attracted by proximity to major highways and the Port of Charleston, a Dubai-based company plans to build a massive distribution center in Orangeburg County. Such inland projects could help boost trade through the port, experts said last week.

Port, trade and maritime industry folks met in Charleston last week for the 2008 Port Productivity Conference, where one of the conference’s key themes surely struck a chord with officials from the Port of Charleston.

One of the panelists, Jim Newsome, vice president of steamship line Hapag Lloyd, said that if there’s one area where the supply chain can be improved, it’s on the inland side of the equation. His comments weren’t directed at the Holy City, but they certainly would have rung a bell here.

Charleston’s cargo business has suffered in recent years as the rival Port of Savannah has climbed the East Coast rankings for cargo volume, thanks in large part to a network of distribution centers developed outside the port’s gates.

Another panelist, Carl Warren, director of business development for CSX Intermodal, a unit of railroad giant CSX Corp. , said nowhere will meeting those challenges be more important than the Southeast.

Recent and planned port expansions in Charleston, Savannah and Jacksonville, Fla., will require an even greater need for distribution hubs, Warren said.

That need may work to Charleston’s advantage, as at least three high-profile and large-scale distribution centers are under development nearby.

United Arab Emirates-based Jafza International has acquired 1,322 acres near Santee in Orangeburg County where it plans to build a massive warehouse and transportation hub.

Also, Hillwood, a development company run by Ross Perot Jr. , son of the former presidential candidate, plans to transform more than 760 acres along Interstate 26 near Summerville into what likely will be the largest industrial park ever built in the Charleston region. And New York-based Rockefeller Group is looking to develop about 400 acres along Interstate 26 in nearby Jedburg.



Having appraised the Jafza International land, I can tell you that the general area surrounding the intersection of I-95 and I-26 will undergo some very exciting changes over the next ten years. That, coupled with the new SC/GA Port and construction of Interstate 73 will place South Carolina in a very competitive economic development position.


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