Watch Now

South Carolina Ports: Southeast market ‘booming’

Record November container volume and Walmart groundbreaking offered as evidence

South Carolina Ports moved a November-record 207,066 twenty-foot equivalent units last month. (Photo: SCPA/English Purcell)

The South Carolina Ports Authority said the record-setting 207,066 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) it moved in November stand as evidence that global trade continues to rebound from coronavirus-forced shutdowns earlier in the year.

That November-best figure also represents a 12% year-over-year increase from the 184,928 TEUs handled at the Wando Welch and North Charleston container terminals in 2019. 

“SC Ports had a truly remarkable month with a record November for containers handled as well as impressive results in our vehicles and inland ports segments,” President and CEO Jim Newsome said in a statement issued Monday. 

The SCPA moved 20,838 vehicles at the Port of Charleston’s Columbus Street Terminal in November, up 4.5% year-over-year. Inland Port Greer reported 11,247 rail moves in November, up 20% year-over-year, and Inland Port Dillon had a record November with 3,077 rail moves, up nearly 28% from 2019.

“SC Ports is well-positioned to handle increasing cargo volumes brought on by both the ongoing recovery and the booming Southeast market,” Newsome said. “Our strategic infrastructure investments are coming online at the right time. We look forward to opening the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal in March.”

The SCPA has said the $1 billion first phase of the Leatherman Terminal development complements efforts to modernize the Wando Welch Terminal and deepen Charleston Harbor to 52 feet, and that the investments will enable it to handle four 14,000-TEU vessels simultaneously in 2021 as well as a 19,000-TEU vessel.

Newsome also noted Walmart’s groundbreaking last week for its 3 million-square-foot import distribution center in Ridgeville, South Carolina, which is expected to boost port volumes by 5% annually once it is operational.

Walmart is investing $220 million to build the DC, which will create about 1,000 full-time jobs. The massive facility along Interstate 26 will take about 14 months to build. It will support approximately 850 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores across South Carolina and beyond.

“We found great partners in South Carolina, Dorchester County and SC Ports for our new $220 million distribution center in Dorchester County, South Carolina,” said Greg Smith, Walmart’s executive vice president of supply chain, in a statement from Thursday’s groundbreaking. “SC Ports’ business mindset, efficient operations and shovel-ready site at the Ridgeville Industrial Campus helped make this project a reality. 

“SC Ports’ proven track record of handling high-demand supply chain needs for the automotive industry gives us full confidence in their ability to meet our retail distribution and e-commerce needs. We are excited about the impact this new distribution facility will have on the regional economy and how it will help us better serve customers across the Southeast,” Smith said. 

Newsome vowed SC Ports “will support the investment by efficiently handling Walmart’s imported goods. Walmart is at the cutting edge of supply chain sophistication and performance, and their confidence in us speaks volumes. This investment is a signal to the major retailers that we’re prepared to be a force in retail distribution and that we can handle their requirements.”

SC Ports purchased the 1,000-acre Ridgeville Industrial Campus in 2018 with the goal of creating a site for port-dependent businesses to locate. The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded SC Ports a nearly $22 million grant to build infrastructure at the site for current and future tenants. Walmart is the site’s first tenant.

Inland South Carolina ports set record

SCPA using BUILD monies to pave way for Walmart distribution center

Walmart picks site near Port of Charleston for distribution center

Click for more American Shipper/FreightWaves stories by Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills.

Kim Link Wills

Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills has written about everything from agriculture as a reporter for Illinois Agri-News to zoology as editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. Her work has garnered awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Magazine Association of the Southeast. Prior to serving as managing editor of American Shipper, Kim spent more than four years with XPO Logistics.