1.02: Expansion of the Port of
(Week of Jan. 15, 2002)
On Thursday (1/17), look for a major push by the
Port of Charleston to get lawmakers behind a plan to move forward
on a new port facility on the Cooper River side of Daniel
Sources say the State Ports Authority, which has
been working hard to lobby lawmakers statewide, will unveil a
revamped five-point plan to move forward on the Daniel Island
facility. The guts of the plan reportedly result from a deal between
the State Ports Authority, the State Infrastructure Bank and the
S.C. Department of Transportation. Among the highlights of the proposal,
which will have to get legislative approval:
- Permitting. They'll seek a green light
to start the permitting process on a Daniel Island facility on
the Cooper River. One source said starting the permitting process
didn't mean the facility would be built on Daniel Island, but
it allowed the agency to have the flexibility to build there if
the location were given final approval down the road.
- Indemnification. They'll ask for indemnification
for members of the Ports Authority board.
- Task force. They'll seek a special multi-agency
committee (Ports, DOT, Infrastructure Bank, railroads and the
like) to study infrastructure needs posed by port options.
Reaction to a revamped ports plan is likely to
be mixed. On one hand, port expansion on Daniel Island is
at the top of the State Chamber of Commerce's business agenda. For
businesses across the state, the port is a statewide resource used
to attract jobs and drive commerce. "The failure to act quickly
to expand the existing facilities of the Port of Charleston will
have the dramatic effect of denying opportunities for economic progress
as well as exposure to global leading edge technologies for the
working citizens of South Carolina," according to the Chamber's
On the other hand, an early legislative push in
the General Assembly that's targeted at the whole body may further
alienate key Charleston lawmakers who oppose the port expansion.
Some Upstate, Pee Dee and Midlands lawmakers support expansion but
may be reluctant to move forward until it's clear the Charleston
community - and their Charleston peers - are happy with the port's
Some statistics about the impact of the Port:
- It's the fourth busiest container cargo port
in the nation with $33 billion of cargo annually.
- More than 83,000 S.C. jobs and $13 billion in
annual economic impact depend on the state's Ports Authority terminals
(this includes Georgetown and Port Royal's smaller terminals).
- Of the state's 50 top manufacturing employers,
47 import or export through the ports. Some 700 companies statewide
use Ports facilities.