Local, state and federal officials broke ground on the S.C. Inland Port Friday, a development that will link the Upstate to docks at the Port of Charleston. (Photo/Leslie Burden)
By Matt Tomsic
Published March 1, 2013
A Norfolk Southern freight train rocketed past the future site of the S.C. Inland Port about 30 minutes before its groundbreaking, showing those who arrived early an example of the site’s future use: linking the Upstate to the coast.
Hundreds of people celebrated the groundbreaking of the inland port during a ceremony today that featured Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Tim Scott, S.C. State Ports Authority CEO Jim Newsome and others. The speakers praised the development’s quick timeline — officials expect it to open by Sept. 1 — and the teamwork between local and state officials.
“This project’s time has come,” Newsome said, adding the Interstate 85 corridor is growing quickly. “Our port would not exist without the Upstate.”
Haley said the inland port gives economic developers another reason to sell South Carolina, and Graham said it takes advantage of two economic drivers: the port and Interstate 85 corridor.
“The two engines of the South Carolina economy are now connected,” Graham said. “That is going to pay great dividends for this state.”
Scott followed Graham, saying he had questions for the state’s senior senator after Graham told him they had some shovels and would be breaking ground by about six feet.
“I was very concerned,” Scott said, adding he’s new to the U.S. Senate but not born yesterday.
Scott said the development will be a model for the nation and credited the various levels of government who worked together to develop the inland port in a little more than a year.
The ports authority announced the $25 million project in July, and Newsome said he first received interest in the development from Norfolk Southern in January 2012. It has the potential to take 40,000 trucks off the highway, the ports authority has said, and at its opening, the inland port will take about 25,000 trucks off state roads. Newsome has said customers like BMW, Michelin and Adidas could use the facility, and during the groundbreaking, he added BMW would be the anchor tenant.
The development could also benefit other Upstate manufacturers, including Nippon Carbide, said Benjamin Steves, general affairs division manager for the chemical manufacturer.
Steves said his company trucks 10 to 20 containers each month to be exported through the Port of Charleston. The inland port will reduce that four-hour truck drive to a one-hour train ride, helping to decrease its costs and giving it better flexibility to deliver just-in-time containers.
Economic development officials have said the inland port could spur the development of a logistics and manufacturing hub on surrounding land.
The inland port will be built within a few miles of the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, Interstate 85 and BMW. More than 250 acres of private land is available for purchase surrounding these entities, according to a list from several Upstate real estate firms. Additionally, the airport is unlocking around 1,500 acres of its land for private development, including a large tract that abuts the port’s land.