Harbor Freight Tools, the launch customer for the state’s second inland port, in Dillon County, is undergoing a 1 million-square-foot expansion of its East Coast distribution facility, company and state officials said in a news release.
Headquartered in Calabasas, Calif., the national tool retailer now has more than 800 stores in the United States. Its S.C. operation sits within the Carolinas I-95 Mega Site, a 3,400-acre industrial park situated between Dillon and Latta near the North Carolina border.
The S.C. State Ports Authority broke ground in March on an inland port operation within the industrial park. Harbor Freight’s commitment to send about 10,000 containers initially through the Dillon Inland Port enabled the port’s launch, port officials said. The company’s expansion will likely boost those volumes.
CSX railroad will service the Dillon site, which is expected to open in early 2018, carrying containers filled with cargo to the Port of Charleston overnight for export to global markets.
“The significant expansion of Harbor Freight Tools is exciting news for the port and state,” port President and CEO Jim Newsome said in the release. “They served as a catalyst for the development of Inland Port Dillon and will be the launch customer of that facility, further driving jobs and growth opportunities for the Dillon area.”
Harbor Freight expects the expansion to create more than 500 jobs for the rural area, increasing the company’s workforce to 1,150 workers. This is the third expansion of its distribution center; the first occurred in 2006, and the second in 2014. The company’s total investment in the site is now more than $200 million.
“Since we opened our first facility here in 2001, the company has continued to grow and so has our need for a larger distribution center,” Harbor Freight Tools founder and CEO Eric Smidt said in the release.
Work on the Harbor Freight expansion is expected to begin by the end of the year and wrap up in early 2019.
The state’s Coordinating Council for Economic Development approved job development credits related to the project, and a $5 million Rural Infrastructure grant was awarded to Dillon County for site prep work.