Charleston, SC – The South Carolina State Ports Authority has issued a response to the Legislative Audit Council’s (LAC) report entitled, Issues Involved in the State Ports Authority’s Expansion Plans.
In their report, the LAC makes 11 recommendations, nine of which are being addressed or can only be dealt with by moving forward with port expansion on the Cooper River side of Daniel Island.
“There’s certainly no smoking gun,” said Whitemarsh S. Smith III, chairman of the South Carolina State Ports Authority’s Board. “Most of the LAC’s recommendations have to be addressed in the permitting process and in the feasibility studies. That’s why it’s so important that we get legislative approval and move ahead.”
The LAC minimizes the port’s positive benefits and says that it is difficult to quantify, despite that fact that the port’s economic impact study was based on a nationally recognized and verified model.
“The positive impact of trade through the Ports Authority’s terminals is well known and quantifiable,” said Bernard S. Groseclose Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Ports Authority. “USC economists have verified our approach in the past. They said we understate the impacts of the port, not inflate it – 83,000 jobs is a conservative number.”
The LAC report cites the Ports Authority’s renowned productivity and notes the 32% gains in land use since 1997, yet calls for more improvements. “It is encouraging that the LAC recognizes the Port of Charleston’s efficiency,” Groseclose said, “but there is a limit to what we can do with our existing terminals.”
The LAC also called for expansion of the Wando Welch Terminal. “We could not agree more with the need for additional space in the Port of Charleston, both now and into the future,” said Groseclose.
The report also deals extensively with the Global Gateway project, despite the fact that applications for this project were withdrawn more than a year ago.
Finally, the LAC concludes that a Jasper County site offers a realistic alternative to port expansion on Daniel Island without conducting any studies or analysis. “Jasper is not a substitute for port expansion in Charleston,” said Chairman Smith. “They’re two separate projects. The possibility of private developers doing something in Jasper County does not fill the need for port expansion in Charleston. They’re in different waterways, catering to different customers, with different services.”
Now is the time to act on the port expansion compromise, Groseclose noted. “South Carolina’s port system is at a crossroads. It is time to send a clear message to the business community, both here and around the world, that we support a strong and competitive Port of Charleston.”
For a complete copy of the response, please visit the Ports Authority’s
website at https://scspa.com/community/press_room/lac/lacresponsefinal3-15-02.pdf