SC Ports Authority approves $147M spending plan - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

SC Ports Authority approves $147M spending plan

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Charleston, SC - On the heels of a 10 percent increase in container volume last month, the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) Board today approved the most aggressive investment plan in the agency's 70-year history, underscoring the anticipated growth of South Carolina's ports from big ship traffic, the expansion of the Panama Canal and increased exports from the region.

During its regular monthly meeting, the Board approved the SCPA's budget for the 2013 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The plan projects an eight percent increase in container volume and $146.9 million in capital spending on major investments such as the construction of the new Navy Base Terminal and upgrades to facility infrastructure and information systems.

"This aggressive investment plan for our ports mirrors the significant investment of our state toward realizing the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project," said SCPA Chairman Bill Stern, referring to the $180 million budget allocation approved by both houses of the South Carolina legislature this session. An additional $120 million toward the deepening project's construction is being considered by the budget conference committee.

Stern continued, "In making these commitments to our port infrastructure, we are ensuring that South Carolina has the tools to spur the economic growth and job creation that comes with having world-class port facilities."

"We continue to challenge our organization to grow above the market," said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the SCPA. "The aggressive projections for our business growth reflect our belief that deep water will drive port selection by cargo interests."

Also included in the FY2013 budget is a six percent planned increase in breakbulk and non-containerized cargo at South Carolina's public seaports. Breakbulk tonnage has been a major growth factor for the SCPA, buoyed by the completed $23-million project to transform Columbus Street Terminal into a premier ro-ro, breakbulk and project cargo facility. The terminal handles cargoes such as BMW vehicle exports as well as heavy lift moves for the power generation industry.

Furthermore, the budget plan calls for an increase in personnel, with the addition of nine jobs in the operations and maintenance areas during the next 12 months.

Volume Results & Approved Projects

The Board also discussed during the meeting the port system's current business climate. May's container volume of 132,498 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) was a nearly 10 percent gain over the same month last year.

In the 2012 fiscal year to date (from July 2011 to May 2012), TEU volume in the Port of Charleston was up 3.4 percent from the previous year while pier tons of non-containerized cargo in Charleston and Georgetown climbed 43.1 percent.

In other business, the SCPA Board approved a $2 million paving and container yard improvement project for North Charleston Terminal, to be completed by Banks Construction Co. The Board also authorized a contract related to electrical upgrades needed at that facility to replace four older dockside container cranes with four new cranes, which the SCPA plans to purchase within the next year.

Additionally, the Board approved a resolution authorizing the SCPA, as Grantee, to apply to reorganize Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) No. 21 under an alternative site framework. This reorganization would increase the FTZ service area along the coast and broaden the benefits to both new and existing companies using the program. The SCPA serves as Grantee of the FTZ program for FTZ No. 21 along the South Carolina coast and FTZ No. 38 in the Upstate.

 

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