Adam Crain

Meeting SC’s Economic Potential

Jobs & Economy
January 11, 2017

Adam Crain

There is good news out of Washington for the people of South Carolina, and it can be summed up in three words: jobs, jobs, jobs! Right before the Christmas recess, Congress sent legislation to the president that approves the deepening of the Charleston Port.

So what does that mean for South Carolina and why did the entire South Carolina Republican Delegation vote for the measure?

According to Senator Lindsey Graham, the vote means Charleston “took a MONUMENTAL STEP toward becoming the ‘Premier Port on the East Coast.’ We are going to start actual construction to get the Port of Charleston 54 feet in depth.”

But what does all this really mean and why is it good for the people of South Carolina?

As it sits currently, some of the largest container ships can only access the Port under certain tidal conditions. With a deeper port, those ships – the same ones that sail through the Panama Canal – will be unimpeded in their endeavor to move cargo in and out of South Carolina and indeed, the southeast.

But does the port really have to do anything with you specifically? Yes! Because it has to do with the South Carolina economy. Renowned columnist George Will tells the story this way in his Washington Post column, Charleston’s port needs deepening. Can Congress do its job?

“Protruding from one of the approximately 10,000 containers here are 13-foot-tall tires ($80,000 apiece) heading for off-road mining vehicles in Australia, Brazil and elsewhere. The tires are made in Lexington, S.C.

 About 200 miles inland, in the Greenville-Spartanburg area there is a building boom ignited by the Charleston port – more than 6 million square feet of warehouse space is being built to enlarge the Greenville-Spartanburg area’s role as a distribution center.

 Since the 1970’s when Michelin began manufacturing tires in Upstate South Carolina, four other tire companies have come….South Carolina manufactures 89,000 tires a day and exports more tires than any other state…Without the port, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo would not be building plants in South Carolina.

 Operators of the cranes that load the containers onto the ships often earn, with overtime, six-figure salaries. The University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business estimates more than 187,000 jobs – 1 out of every 11 South Carolina jobs – and $53 billion in economic output are directly or indirectly related to Charleston’s port (emphasis added).”[i]

 It is absolutely clear, the ability of South Carolina to compete in the increasingly global economy depends in part on the success of the port.

Closer to home, the well-being and financial security of family members and neighbors depend on the Charleston port too!

Free-enterprise believers can have their debates over the costs of new infrastructure projects and the best way to pay for them (this particular one has a financial plan already laid out by the way), but one reasonable role of government is to build and maintain infrastructure to keep the free-market engine roaring.

Palmetto Promise welcomes this news and we think you should as well!

[i] Will, George F. “Charleston’s Port Needs Deepening. Can Congress Do Its Job?”The Washington Post. WP Company, 21 Sept. 2016. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.