Six years ago, the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) extended its reach, literally, when it opened Inland Port Greer, located 212 miles inland, in Upstate South Carolina between Atlanta and Charlotte along Interstate 85 in Greer, next to BMW’s automotive campus.
By providing one-day rail service to and from the Port of Charleston, SCPA made it possible for industries in the area and beyond to easily get their goods to the port for overseas shipment. Conversely, imports can have one-day access to a hub from which they can reach 90 million American consumers located within a 500 mile radius (about a one-day trip by truck) of what is becoming one of the most active ports in the nation.
In the six years since its operation, Inland Port Greer has grown to the point that, according to a study conducted by the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, one out of eight jobs in Upstate South Carolina are connected to the port.
“Inland Port Greer greatly benefits trucking companies and logistics firms by bringing in more business to the region and offering shorter truck trips, enabling drivers to be home more often,” Liz Crumley, director of corporate communications for SCPA, told Palmetto Business Daily. “This also has environmental benefits by reducing emissions and community benefits by reducing traffic congestion.”
Use of railroads for moving cargo, and an efficient road system that makes the average truck trip 12 minutes from loading to leaving the port, contribute to the efficiency of Inland Port Greer's operations.
When SCPA inaugurated Inland Port Greer, BMW was its launch, and only, partner. Now the economic powerhouse counts John Deere, Techtronic Industries, Adidas, Eastman Chemical, Dollar Tree and Michelin among the industries that rely on the port for their commercial needs.
The port's rail moves have increased almost 650 percent in the years since it was established, and 22 percent in the past year – 143,204 from July 2018 to June 2019. The most recent figures show 12,473 rail moves in September, up 40 percent from a year ago.
The success of its innovation in owning and controlling an “inland marine terminal” to facilitate distribution of goods to consumers, and movement of American-produced goods to a seaport, led SCPA to establish another inland port last year. Inland Port Dillon sits near the North Carolina border on I-95, the major access road serving the entire U.S. East Coast.