Ports Chief Sees Growth for Dillon Facility

by Matthew Christian

South Carolina Ports Authority CEO James Newsome on Tuesday afternoon listed three areas of potential growth for Inland Port Dillon: retail distribution, export transload facilities, and manufacturing.

Newsome, who has been president and CEO of the South Carolina Ports Authority since Sept. 1, 2009, was the featured speaker at the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce 2019 Outlook Luncheon in the ballroom of the Florence Center.

Retail distribution is a growth area, Newsome said, because of the inland port’s location just off Interstate 95’s Exit 190.

“That’s an essential artery for that,” Newsome added.

Inland Port Dillon already has one transload facility for C&M Hog Farm.

Transloading is the process of changing from one type of transportation to another. In this case, from trucks to rail.

Newsome also cited the location of the inland port as the reason for potential manufacturing growth.

Already, a manufacturing plant has located in Marion County citing the availability of the inland port.

Inland Port Dillon was opened in 2018 and it’s estimated that the port will take five years to reach its planned capacity.

Newsome also addressed the ongoing trade dispute between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.

“I’ve heard it said— I think it was on CNBC— South Carolina is probably the state in the country that is the most dependent on global trade of any state,” Newsome said.

He added that he hoped the dispute would be solved quickly and that free trade would be allowed to continue.

Other areas of growth for the port include the deepening of the harbor at the Wando terminal in Charleston, the refurbishment of the Wando terminal, and the opening of phase 1 of the Leatherman terminal, which is named after Sen. Hugh K. Leatherman Sr. of Florence.

In several places in his speech, Newsome praised the efforts of Leatherman to provide funds to the ports authority. Prior to 2019, Leatherman served as president pro tempore of the South Carolina Senate. He continues to serve as the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which controls the budget-writing process for that chamber of the South Carolina General Assembly.

“I can’t thank Senator Leatherman enough,” Newsome said. “Almost from my first day, I had the support of Senator Leatherman.”

Leatherman provided the introduction for Newsome at the luncheon. Leatherman was introduced by John Brand, son of Florence Mayor Pro Tempore Frank J. “Buddy” Brand.

A Savannah native, Newsome served as president of Hapag-Lloyd (America) Inc. and as an executive vice president with Nedlloyd Lines from 1987 to 1997. He also spent 10 years with Strachan Shipping Company, where he was president of its Hoegh Lines Agencies subsidiary.

The South Carolina Ports Authority, established by the state’s General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport and intermodal facilities in Charleston, Dillon, Georgetown and Greer. The port operations facilitate 187,200 statewide jobs and generate nearly $53 billion annual economic activity.

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