A second inland port in South Carolina is now a go.
The port announced plans to pursue the Dillon site in April but needed board approval before moving forward. The board unanimously approved the Dillon project Monday morning before the State of the Port address.
The inland port will now move into the design phase. The ports authority plans to break ground in the first quarter of 2017, with opening projected by the end of the year.
The new inland port will likely occupy 100 acres within the Carolinas I-95 Megasite, a 2,500-acre industrial park between Dillon and Latta, Port CEO Jim Newsome said. The initial terminal is expected to handle 45,000 containers annually.
Companies use either trucks or rail to bring their products to inland ports, and then rail lines bring the cargo to marine terminals for export to global markets. The port has operated an inland port in Greer since 2013. Norfolk Southern Railway brings cargo from that terminal to Charleston each night. CSX will bring cargo from Dillon to Charleston overnight.
Newsome has long talked of creating more inland ports in South Carolina as a way to bring more cargo into the Port of Charleston, remove some long-haul trucks from state highways and create more economic development around the inland terminals.
Newsome said he expects the Dillon site to grow container volumes at the port by attracting more cargo from Southeast, Northeast and Midwest companies to the Port of Charleston.
The Dillon project would require a steady cargo base over time and a launch customer — like the BMW Manufacturing Co. campus was for the Greer port in 2013. Harbor Freight Tools operates a facility within the industrial park where the inland port will be built in Dillon, but no launch customers have been announced.
Newsome said earlier that he expects the Dillon project to cost around $30 million, including the land purchase and site prep. The port plans to pursue around $10 million in infrastructure funding from the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant program.
“Inland Port Greer has allowed the port to increase the cargo volumes moved by intermodal rail and become a key catalyst for economic development in the Upstate,” port Board Chairman Pat McKinney said in a news release. “We are confident that Inland Port Dillon will realize similar benefits for the port and our customers, increase local business opportunities and provide solid job growth.”