South Carolina Ports Authority president and CEO Jim Newsome’s recent State of the Port focused on growth, modernization and the abundant opportunities ahead for South Carolina’s public port system.
In his eighth address at the annual event hosted by the Propeller Club of Charleston, Newsome reviewed the Port’s financial and volume gains in recent years and the investments required for SCPA to meet the changing needs of the shipping industry.
“The Port achieved growth of volumes and operating earnings in spite of an overall slowing of world trade,” Newsome said. “We also accomplished significant progress on numerous critical projects – modernization of the Wando Welch Terminal wharf, and implementation of an advanced gate system that enables us to efficiently handle that facility’s growing cargo volumes; continued fill activity and other construction work on the Hugh K. Leatherman, Sr. Terminal.”
In the year ahead, Newsome expects the Southeastern port market to continue to enjoy strong volume growth relative to the overall U.S. port market, supported by foreign-direct investment in manufacturing as well as a steadily increasing consumer market.
Despite financial uncertainty in the container shipping industry and further consolidation of major carriers, Newsome also said that big ships remain the catalyst for port investment and will drive the focus of SCPA’s short and long-term projects.
“Top 10 ports must make significant investments to prepare facilities to serve these bigger ships, including taller cranes and stronger terminal infrastructure, as well as harbor deepening projects. We have worked diligently to ensure that the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project to 52 feet remains on track to deliver all of the capabilities needed of a modern harbor by the end of the decade,” Newsome said.
Looking ahead, Newsome said that SCPA’s major priorities are investment, terminal optimization and cargo base expansion. He predicted another fiscal year of record capital investments in the Port, and together SCPA and the state of South Carolina will invest $2.2 billion over ten years to deliver projects critical to the Port’s competitiveness.
Newsome concluded his remarks with an inward look at SCPA’s organizational approach to meeting industry needs. With the adoption of new vision and values as part of a culture change initiative, SCPA’s nearly 500 employees have ownership of the Port’s future.