Greer Inland Port May Be New SC Economic Engine -

Greer Inland Port May Be New SC Economic Engine

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South Carolina leaders say a new distribution terminal being built in Greer will help the state's economy grow by linking the port in Charleston to Interstate 85.

The South Carolina Ports Authority held a groundbreaking for its inland port Friday. The $25 million facility is slated to open this fall.  Containers will be shipped by rail from the Greer Port to the Port of Charleston, allowing the new facility to act as a distribution point to trucking and air freight companies.  25,000 containers are expected in its first year of operation, hopefully building to 100,000 containers within five years, according to SC Port Authority CEO Jim Newsome.  "This is a game changer," says Newsome.

Furman economist Tom Smythe says the port could solidify the Upstate as a transportation hub, and will be huge for existing manufacturers like BMW and Michelin.  "It's a way for them to save money and be much more efficient in shipping their product," Smythe says.  The biggest impact, though, could be the enticement of new business, according to Smythe.  "At the margin a new company may say look, we're more likely to relocate there because we have some of these new things, transportation things they may not have somewhere else."

For small business owners like Ted Coles, that's very good news.  Coles owns Integrity Tool, a small supplier he built from the ground up more than a decade ago.  "I started with just myself," Coles says.  "Now I have 10 employees."  BMW has become one of Coles' biggest customers since them.  "The business they bring to us is tremendous," he says.  Now, he's hoping the port could mean the same kind of growth.  "As a service provider and small business owner, it gives me an opportunity to gain new customers right out of the box, and I don't even have to go look for them!"

The Port will also likely mean jobs, particularly in construction and manufacturing, according to Smythe.  "This is big," he says.

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