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Proposed Inland Port Facility Could Be A Boon For Economically Strapped Dillon
5/5/2016 11:58:03 AM

The inland Port Greer uniquely involves the convergence of four modes of transportation at one site, with the Port, rail, truck and nearby GSP International Airport.
By Barney Blakeney

The South Carolina Port Authority’s proposal to build a second inland facility near Dillon may not mean many more opportunities for Charleston’s International Longshoremen Association members, but it could be a boon for the predominantly Black residents of the rural region that industry has forgotten.

SCPA announced on April 20 that it hopes to build a second inland port facility in Dillon. Spurred by the success of the inland facility at Greer near Greenville, the facility in Dillon near Florence would offer proximity to I-95 and rail access for northern-bound cargo distribution, said SCPA Corporate Communications and Community Affairs Manager Erin Dhand.

ILA Local 1422 President Kenny Riley said Local 1422 members plan to follow the containers. Wherever containers go union members will go.

But moving shipping containers from Charleston and Georgetown ports to inland ports will require more handling by crane operators who are SCPA employees, he said. Inland ports mostly use SCPA labor, he said.

One benefit to local ILA members might mean more room for containers here, Riley said. It’ll be needed by 2020. Bigger ships coming through the Panama Canal and into Charleston’s deepened harbor translates into increased volumes of cargo. The union’s approximately 800 members log about 1.5 million man-hours at a base salary of $32 per hour.

One of the greatest benefits of a second inland port will be its function as a container storage and distribution point, said Dhand. And that means jobs for the approximately 7,000 local residents in Dillon. The 60 percent Black population in Dillon is the state’s youngest and most dense. The per capita income is about $15,000 annually and the median household income is about $24,000 annually. Some 38 percent of residents live at or below poverty.

Dhand said the SCPA is beginning the initial phases of establishing the proposed facility, but it likely will become a reality. The SCPA has yet to determine its economic impact, she said. The SCPA, however, doesn’t anticipate the Dillon facility’s economic impact will be as great as that of the facility at Greer.

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