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DHL Supply Chain to build distribution center complex in Charleston, SC

Image: Facebook/DHL

DHL Supply Chain said today it will spend $100 million to build a 1.7 million square foot warehouse and distribution center complex near Charleston, South Carolina.

 The Westerville, Ohio-based unit of Deutsche Post DHL group said it will construct three buildings in Dorchester County, South Carolina. The first building will be completed during the first quarter of 2020. The timeframe to complete the balance of the project will be based on demand, though a company spokeswoman said work on the two additional facilities will be finished no later than 2023.

 DHL Supply Chain purchased 125 acres in the county, and named the parcel “DHL Commerce Park.” The unit worked in tandem with DHL Real Estate Solutions, which provides property services for DHL. DHL Supply Chain is one of the world’s largest contract logistics firms.

The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA), which owns and operates the Port of Charleston, has developed two so-called inland ports which carry goods by rail to and from the port. The first port, located in Greer, about 217 miles west of Charleston, opened in 2013. Its key customer has been the North American arm of German automaker BMW, whose main domestic assembly plant is in nearby Spartanburg. A second facility, in Dillon, about 161 miles north-northeast of Charleston, opened in April 2018. The Greer facility, which has been a solid performer from the start, received $25 million earlier this year to expand its operations.

 The U.S. inland port network is expected to proliferate in the years ahead as businesses and seaports look for ways to connect U.S. inland markets with ports of entry through dedicated rail networks instead of via motor carrier. The Georgia Ports Authority, which runs the container port of Savannah 107 miles south of Charleston, has built one inland port in the state’s northwest quadrant, has announced a second facility in northeast Georgia, and is considering a third in Georgia’s south-central region.

Walter Kemmsies, managing director and chief strategist, ports, airports & global infrastructure for logistics and industrial real estate giant Jones Lang LaSalle, Inc. called the DHL Supply Chain announcement “impressively bold and worthy of respect.” Kemmsies is one of the nation’s foremost experts in, and proponents of, the inland port model.

SCPA is “seeing significant distribution center and warehousing activity in our region, driven by port users who rely on our marine and inland facilities to handle growing import volumes bound for consumers across the Southeast,” said Jim Newsome, its long-time president and CEO, in a statement. “DHL Supply Chain will play an important role in supporting the logistics needs of multiple port-related business segments.”

 In its announcement, the DHL unit emphasized that it has received inquiries from companies about doing business within South Carolina under scenarios unrelated to the inland port model.

Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.