Savannah port expansion a boost for SC, too

info@islandpacket.comDecember 9, 2011 

As mayor of Hardeeville, I was excited to read that Gov. Nikki Haley and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control have worked out an agreement with the Georgia Ports Authority that will both protect our environment and allow the needed dredging of the Savannah River to move forward.

By allowing both Charleston and Savannah's terminals to get their dredging projects completed, we will finally be able to make this region the job-creation machine it has the capability to become.

No one has been or is a bigger supporter of the concept of a new ocean terminal in Jasper County than the city of Hardeeville. It has become clear that the only time either state wants to talk about the project is when they are trying to stop the other side from doing something.

Our local elected officials -- state Sens. Tom Davis and Clementa Pinckney among others -- have done everything they can to promote our interest, and I give them full credit for that. Nevertheless, we cannot wait another 20 to 30 years before landing new port-related industrial jobs in Jasper County.

We have the finest industrial property in the state in the form of RiverPort, and the first phase is already under construction. This 342 acres alone represents 3 million square feet of industrial space. In other words, they are going to bring projects and create jobs here now, not 20 years down the road. This property is actually closer to the Charleston port by rail than much of the acclaimed developed property in our Upstate. It is easier to access the Charleston port from Jasper County than from Greenville County. If you don't think so, check a state map.

For the Georgia port, it is even easier. If you drew a circle with a radius of 30 miles around the Garden City terminal and marked the areas that have been industrially developed, they are currently in the Peach State. The piece of Savannah market that has yet to be filled lies in Jasper County.

Also, this myth that growth in the Garden City terminal only helps Georgia is nonsense. Of the nearly 2,000 employees who work at the Georgia Ports Authority, more than 40 percent are South Carolinians. Yes, you read that number correctly. One of the largest employers of residents of Beaufort and Jasper Counties is the Georgia Ports Authority.

I've heard enough of the whining about the inevitable happening in Savannah. Let's tip our hats to our neighbors in Georgia, who have spent more than a billion dollars in infrastructure improvements at their terminal and now benefit from those efforts. Let's all get together and start grabbing our share of the pie for the Palmetto State. What Stratford Land Co. is doing at the RiverPort project is a game-changer for our part of the state.

Thank you, Gov. Haley.

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