The S.C. Ports Authority has opened the state’s second inland port in Dillon County.
Companies will bring their cargo to Dillon, cranes will load the product onto trains and CSX will run rail service overnight to terminals in Charleston.
Port executives, S.C. politicians and Gov. Henry McMaster gathered at the site Monday to commemorate the opening.
Port of Charleston CEO Jim Newsome said he hopes the operation will bring more cargo to Charleston terminals faster and entice companies in the Carolinas, Midwest and Northeast to send their cargo to the port via rail.
“Inland ports provide needed infrastructure in the interior of the state to support the movement of freight to and from our marine terminals,” Newsome said in a news release. “The addition of Inland Port Dillon to the port’s network diversifies our reach and enables port users to gain logistics efficiencies through rail transportation of their cargo.”
Harbor Freight Tools, which is significantly expanding its Dillon operation, is the launch customer for the new inland port.
Newsome said he also wants the inland port to pave the way for more industry to move into Dillon and the broader Pee Dee. U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, R-S.C., who represents the 7th District, echoed this sentiment, saying the operation will spur economic development in the region.
“Inland Port Dillon will be an economic engine for the region, attracting diverse new industry that will create high-paying jobs in Marion, Marlboro and Dillon counties,” Rice said in the release.
The ports authority broke ground on the nearly $50 million project in March 2017. The project sits on about 35 acres within the Carolinas I-95 Mega Site, a 3,400-acre industrial park between Dillon and Latta near the North Carolina border. The port owns about 150 acres within the industrial park for expansions, if needed.
The port also operates an inland port in Greer, which opened in 2013 with BMW Manufacturing Co. as its launch customer. Inland Port Greer has far surpassed initial expectations, and in 2017, it handled nearly 125,000 rail moves, up 20% from 2016.
From July through March, the first nine months of the fiscal year, the Greer terminal handled 87,360 rail moves, with 10,612 rail lifts recorded last month.
Inland Port Dillon is expected to move about 45,000 containers via rail instead of truck in its first year of operation.