South Carolina Ports Embraces Increased Regional Impact

Greatness demands vision, and Jim Newsome, President and CEO of the South Carolina Ports, has vision.

His vision, and the Port’s ongoing success, was on full display when 100+ Chamber members visited their new headquarters in Mount Pleasant for breakfast this Wednesday. Read more about this event.

“We need to be a top 10 port in the United States,” said Newsome during comments at the event. “There is no room for a niche port anymore.”

And they’ve done it. The Port of Charleston moved 2.3 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit, the logistics industry’s standard measure) in FY2019, ranking it 9th nationally.

To hit that benchmark, the Port has doubled capacity over the past 10 years. And they are not done yet.

Two major infrastructure projects are needed to meet the requirements of the growing number of large vessels calling on Charleston and cement the Port’s position among the nation’s largest and most capable: deepening Charleston harbor to 52 feet and completing the new Leatherman terminal in North Charleston. Both are Chamber infrastructure priorities.

Harbor deepening, which will make us the deepest on the East Coast, is underway and tracking for completion in 2021. Continued and timely federal funding to accompany state investment is critical to finishing on time. The Leatherman terminal, a new 280-acre container terminal in North Charleston, is the only permitted new container terminal on the East and Gulf Coasts and will boost the capacity of the port by 50%. The construction will be completed in three phases – with phase one expected to open in 2021.

The Port’s ambitious plans and strong prospects are a good sign for the region and the state. The Port currently supports 187,000 South Carolina jobs and drives roughly 10% of the state’s entire economy. It’s an economic pillar today that infrastructure investments will keep strong for tomorrow.

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