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Automotive, retail distribution boost port activity

Wednesday, 22 July 2015 | 00:00
The booming U.S. automotive sector is boosting activity at the Port of Charleston, according to S.C. State Ports Authority President and CEO Jim Newsome.

The ports authority handled 253,000 vehicles at its Columbus Street Terminal in fiscal 2015, which ended June 30. The majority of these cars came from BMW Manufacturing Co. in Greer.

The terminal, along East Bay Street, is poised to get much busier when Volvo Cars begins exporting cars and importing parts in 2018. Volvo estimates it will initially produce 100,000 vehicles at its Berkeley County plant.

The ports authority has been working with Volvo on its plans for the port. Newsome said the terminal can handle the additional volume, though an expansion will likely be necessary in the future if more automotive projects come to the state.

Additional growth at the port stems from the Southeast’s manufacturing sector, as well as agriculture products, plastic products and new retail distribution facilities.

Dollar Tree recently announced plans to build a 1.5-million-square-foot distribution plant near Cowpens in the Upstate. Dollar Tree officials said the S.C. Inland Port in Greer played a big role during the site selection process.

The inland port, now in its second year of operation, had a record month in June with roughly 6,700 rail containers handled.

For fiscal 2015, which ended June 30, the inland port had 58,000 rail moves, up 199% over 2014. Newsome said the facility is well-positioned to reach the ports authority’s goal of achieving 100,000 rail moves within five years of opening.

Fiscal 2015 update
About 1.09 million pier containers — total boxes, regardless of size — came through the ports authority’s terminals in fiscal 2015, up 14.4% from 2014. In June, the port handled nearly 97,000 pier containers, up 12.8%.

The ports authority handled 1.92 million 20-foot equivalent units — also called TEUs, the common industry measurement that counts every 20 feet worth of container — in fiscal 2015. This is up 13.7% from fiscal 2014.

About 189,000 cruise passengers came through the port, and 1,893 ships docked in fiscal 2015.

The Charleston terminals handle more than 7,000 gates moves a day. During extended gate hours on Saturday, the terminals handle an additional 1,000 gate moves, Newsome said.
Source: GSA Business
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