S.C. Ports Makes a $63.4B Annual Economic Impact on S.C.

Staff Report From South Carolina CEO

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

South Carolina Ports Authority has long been a powerful economic engine for South Carolina, and as container volumes have doubled over the past decade, the Port’s positive economic impact on the state has significantly increased.

S.C. Ports Authority (SCPA) makes a $63.4 billion annual economic impact on South Carolina and creates 1 in 10 S.C. jobs, according to a new Economic Impact Study from the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business.

“S.C. Ports Authority has further established itself as one of our state’s premier economic drivers, creating 1 in 10 jobs and a $63.4 billion economic impact on South Carolina,” Gov. Henry McMaster said.

The analysis finds that S.C. Ports’s operations and all associated activities correspond to nearly 225,000 jobs and $12.8 billion in wages and salaries for South Carolinians that would otherwise not exist.

The average income for Port and Port-related jobs is roughly $57,000, which is approximately 32% higher than the state average income, the analysis found.

“S.C. Ports is one of South Carolina’s most vital resources,” said Joey Von Nessen, the study author and research economist at the University of South Carolina. “Port operations create high-paying jobs and attract port-dependent businesses to locate or expand throughout the state. South Carolina’s success is intrinsically tied to S.C. Ports Authority’s continued growth.”

Port operations account for 10% of the state’s economy and generate $1.1 billion in tax revenue annually for the state, the study found.

The economic benefits of S.C. Ports can be felt throughout the state, and particularly in the Upstate, which sees 52% of the Port’s statewide economic impact, followed by the Midlands at 25%, the Lowcountry at 12% and the Pee Dee at 11%.

“S.C. Ports is a tremendous asset for the state,” SCPA Board Chairman Bill Stern said. “Its role of moving cargo between South Carolina and global markets leads to job creation and industry recruitment. Many of our state’s biggest economic development wins would not have come to fruition without the Port. We are deeply proud of the growth SCPA brings to the state and the impact it makes on South Carolinians.”

SCPA has doubled its cargo volume over the past decade; much of that growth stems from an increase in imports and exports tied to South Carolina’s boom in advanced manufacturing.

Advanced manufacturing employment doubled between 2010 and 2018, and SCPA cargo volumes doubled between 2009 and 2018, signifying that there has been a virtual one-to-one relationship between the growth rate of the state’s manufacturing sector and SCPA activity, data show.

“S.C. Ports’s rapid expansion over the past decade occurred in part by facilitating the advanced manufacturing boom,” Von Nessen said. “SCPA supports businesses and manufacturers as they invest in South Carolina. This ultimately leads to new jobs and higher wages, as well as disposable income being spent in communities and the recruitment of suppliers — all of which propels S.C.’s economy forward.”

Buoyed by the cargo growth over the past decade, S.C. Ports now looks to further diversify its cargo base, particularly with retailers and distribution centers.

SCPA will also complete major infrastructure projects by the end of 2021 — upgrading infrastructure and equipment at Wando Welch Terminal, building the new Hugh K. Leatherman Sr. Terminal in North Charleston and deepening Charleston Harbor to 52 feet.

“The dedication and expertise exhibited by SCPA and the entire maritime community ensures we are the preferred U.S. port for customers, and our investment in critical infrastructure ensures we remain globally competitive and capable of handling large, cargo-laden ships,” SCPA President and CEO Jim Newsome said. “Over the past 10 years as CEO, I have seen the Port grow significantly. This growth enables S.C. Ports to make a positive, lasting impact on our state’s economy and on South Carolinians.”