The South Carolina State Ports Authority (SPA) is reacheing out to private firms across the globe, soliciting their involvement in port expansion projects in Charleston and Jasper County.
The SPA is currently pursuing permits for a new 280-acre, three-berth container terminal on the former Charleston Naval Base. In addition, the SPA Board in January unanimously voted to pursue a state-owned marine terminal on the Savannah River in Jasper County.
In a letter from SPA President and CEO Bernard S. Groseclose Jr., nearly three dozen ocean carriers and marine terminal operators are invited to express their interest in both, or either, of the projects. Discussions with the firms will follow.
“To finance port development in Charleston and Jasper County, we’re opening the doors to the world’s leading ocean carriers and marine terminal operators,” said Groseclose. “An open, competitive process can only benefit our state’s public seaport system and fair trade in South Carolina.”
Several of these companies have already expressed interest in the projects and most have a long history of doing business with the SPA.Currently, every one of the world’s 20 largest ocean carriers moves cargo through the SPA’s terminals in Charleston, which ranks as the nation’s fourth largest container port.
“While we envision private sector partners, under the SPA’s leadership, the new Charleston and Jasper County facilities will be public terminals operated for the public good,” said Groseclose. “They will be dedicated to improving the economic vitality of all of South Carolina.”
The Corps of Engineers expects a decision on permits for the Charleston expansion project in 18 months. In January, the SPA Board approved a nearly $5 million environmental study to obtain the necessary approvals.
While the Charleston expansion is somewhat ahead of the Jasper project, the SPA intends to move both projects ahead on parallel courses.
“Now’s the time to begin these important negotiations about the future of port expansion in South Carolina,” said Groseclose. “Trade is growing exponentially and we have a tremendous opportunity on the sites in North Charleston and Jasper County.”