CHARLESTON, SC -- JAN. 9, 2020 -- South Carolina Ports Authority had its best calendar year in its history, handling 2.44 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) in 2019, a 5% increase year-over-year.
S.C. Ports handled 1.38 million pier containers -- as measured by the total number of boxes handled -- in 2019 at the Wando Welch and North Charleston terminals. Of those, more than 1.1 million containers went across the docks of the Wando terminal whilst major renovations were ongoing to enhance the terminal's big-ship readiness capabilities.
Breakbulk cargo grew in 2019 with 725,828 pier tons handled, up nearly 10% from a year ago. The Port also handled 225,191 vehicles, up 4%, and 262,776 cruise passengers, up 24%, in 2019.
Inland Port Greer and Inland Port Dillon also saw record breaking activity in 2019 with 190,539 combined rail moves, up 41% year-over-year.
S.C. Ports Authority President and CEO Jim Newsome said volumes were strong across business segments in 2019, despite ongoing global trade issues.
"We enter 2020 with a great decade of growth behind us, during which we doubled our volumes, tripled our asset base and added more than 200 people to our team," Newsome said. "Our cargo growth and efficient terminals are only made possible through the dedication of our team and the broader maritime community."
S.C. Ports handled 187,882 TEUs at the Wando Welch and North Charleston container terminals in December. This brings the total TEUs handled thus far in fiscal year 2020, from July through December, to 1.23 million, up nearly 4% year-over-year.
The Port moved 105,783 pier containers in December for a total of 694,656 pier containers thus far in fiscal year 2020.
Breakbulk and vehicle cargo have seen strong year-over-year growth. The Port handled 45,816 pier tons in December for a total of 356,179 pier tons in fiscal year 2020, up 39% from the same period a year ago. The Port moved 16,436 vehicles across Columbus Street Terminal in December for a total of 115,607 vehicles in fiscal year 2020, up nearly 36%.
Inland Port Greer reported 10,735 rail moves in December for a total of nearly 75,000 rail moves in fiscal year 2020, up 23% year-over-year. Inland Port Dillon, now in its second year of operation, reported 3,027 rail moves in December for a total of nearly 17,000 rail moves for the fiscal year, up 32%.
"Our ongoing growth supports our long-planned, vital infrastructure projects, which are close to becoming a reality. In 2021, S.C. Ports will open the first phase of the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal and achieve a 52-foot depth in Charleston Harbor," Newsome said. "Our enhanced capacity and big-ship capabilities make the Port of Charleston ideal for cargo owners wanting access to both Southeast consumers and global markets."
Impact of new HQ
It has been one year since S.C. Ports Authority moved into its new headquarters building in Mount Pleasant.
Port officials wanted office operations located next to terminal operations; the new office overlooks Wando Welch Terminal. The four-story building also accommodates the Port's growing workforce, which now encompasses more than 730 employees.
The 80,000-square-foot building has numerous shared work spaces, meeting rooms and employee amenities. The cafeteria, aptly named The Galley, brings employees together every day, promoting better cross-functional communication, brainstorming sessions and camaraderie.
The building has also received recognition in The Art Mag for the agency's decision to invest in the Lowcountry art community. The Port's building and design committee hired Sarah Miller Gelber of Canvas Charleston and Miller Gallery to fill its new office with works from local artists.
SCPA's headquarters now has more than 90 pieces of original artwork on its walls, including pieces from Marina Dunbar, John Duckworth, Mary Edna Fraser, Kate Hooray Osmond, Fletcher Williams, Heather Jones, Emily Brown and Jason Ogden, as well as in-house photographers and SCPA employees, English Purcell and Marion Bull.
Gelber said this effort by S.C. Ports positively impacts artists in the community, helping an artist pay down a school loan and assisting a gallery owner during a slow season, among other anecdotes.
"Their willingness to utilize the creative talent in their own community is a model I implore other businesses, large and small, to exercise," Gelber said in her piece for The Art Mag. "In a time when it's frighteningly easy to have all purchases dropped at our door with a click of a button, it's important to remember that there is a soul behind every piece of original art. That unique soul is connected to others, and, in the end, we're all connected -- bringing to light the SCPA's motto: The World Connects Here."
About South Carolina Ports Authority
South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA), established by the state's General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport and intermodal facilities in Charleston, Dillon, Georgetown and Greer. As an economic development engine for the state, Port operations facilitate 225,000 statewide jobs and generate nearly $63.4 billion annual economic activity. SCPA is soon to be home to the deepest harbor on the U.S. East Coast at 52 feet, and the Port is an industry leader in delivering speed-to-market, seamless processes and flexibility to ensure reliable operations, big ship handling, efficient market reach and environmental responsibility. For more information on SCPA, please visit www.scspa.com.