|From left: GSP CEO David Edwards, ports authority Vice President of Economic Development Jack Ellenberg, Norfolk Southern Industrial Development Manager Brian Gwin and GSA Business Editor Scott Miller discuss the impact of the S.C. Inland Port on the Upstate. (Photo/Alison Miller)|
By Matt Tomsic
Published June 28, 2013
The South Carolina Inland Port will attract cargo from across the Southeast and improve the efficiency of shipping from the Upstate through the Port of Charleston, panelists said Thursday night.
The remarks came during a Power Hour sponsored by GSA Business, and the panelists were David Edwards, CEO of Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport; Jack Ellenberg, vice president of economic development for the S.C. State Ports Authority; and Brian Gwin, industrial development manager for Norfolk Southern Corp.
|Above, GSA Business Publisher Lisa Jones speaks to Power Event attendees. Middle, a crowd of around 600 people attended the Power Event Thursday night. Below, panelists discuss the impact of the inland port on the Upstate and region. (Photos/Alison Miller)|
They discussed the impact of the S.C. Inland Port in Greer, which will link docks in Charleston with a container yard in the Upstate through an overnight train service. The inland port is expected to open in September.
Edwards said the project’s timing meshes well with the airport’s efforts to attract new facilities to the land it owns around its terminal and runways.
“We’re looking for people to bring projects to the table that would be good for the airport and good for the community,” he said.
The airport has already signed a deal with CenterPoint Properties on a tract of land near the inland port, and construction of a 400,000-square-foot pad has already begun.
“We really think that’s the first catalyst,” Edwards said. “We’ve already had numerous inquiries about the property in and around this location.”
The airport expects mostly distribution and logistics facilities in the area but could see some light assembly operations, too, he said, declining to be more specific on possible companies interested in sites on airport property.
Gwin said the inland port project has the potential to attract cargo from North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia, as well as from the Upstate. Manufacturers and shippers may decide to send their containers to Greer instead of trucking them all the way to Charleston, Gwin said.
Ellenberg said the port already serves customers from more than 20 states, including many in the Southeast.
“We do think we will be able to grab cargo opportunities from our neighboring states,” he said. “It really becomes what is the best option for that container to get to its destination.”
Because of the inland port, Ellenberg said, businesses that need to be near a port facility won’t have to come to the Lowcountry now that they’ll have Greer as an option.
The project will also improve efficiency for companies’ supply chains throughout the Southeast.
Now, Gwin said, a loaded container is trucked from Charleston to the Upstate and unloaded. That empty container then travels back to Charleston where the port has a yard for empty containers. If a shipper needs an empty container, the process repeats in reverse: A trucker grabs an empty container from Charleston and drives it to the Upstate.
Once the inland port opens, Gwin said, empty containers can collect there for use by Upstate shippers instead of being driven back to Charleston. Meanwhile, the port tries to match import and export loads to cut down on those empty trips, Ellenberg said, and will continue to do so.
“There’s really kind of two empty moves in there that’s not as productive,” Gwin said. “You want to get a balance in those import and export moves, and that allows us to put forward the best economics for the customer.”