South Carolina’s logistics industry has a $32.9 billion impact, according to a 2017 study released by the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness. This makes the logistics industry cluster one of South Carolina’s largest with 600 logistics companies operating in the state, ranging from transportation to air freight providers, to warehouse and distribution centers.
In spring 2018, the Council commissioned an independent Warehouse and Distribution Study. Results from the study indicated that, when comparing 20 U.S. strategic locations, three of the top ﬁve most cost-competitive cities for warehousing and distribution are in South Carolina.
The state’s competitive positioning can be attributed to its ideal location at the center of the Southeastern region of the United States. With the Port of Charleston, the Greer and Dillon Inland Ports, and major rail lines, highways, and airports, South Carolina has a national and global reach. This has made the Palmetto State inviting to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), many of which have settled in the state. These OEMs are a driving force in South Carolina’s logistics industry cluster and encourage continued growth in the transportation and distribution sectors.
Continued Growth & Investment
South Carolina’s economy has grown significantly in the last two decades and projections forecast even stronger economic performance in the future, thanks in part to the state’s logistics industry cluster.
In 2016, 442 million tons of freight moved across South Carolina using the state’s railways, highways, airports, and waterways. That tonnage is expected to increase by 61 percent by 2040. Rail transport is expected to grow at the fastest rate of 68 percent from just above 63 million tons to approximately 106 million tons in 2040.
As the logistics industry grows, state and federal investments have been pledged to improve South Carolina’s infrastructure system with a total 10-year capital commitment to logistics in South Carolina exceeding $2 billion. In addition to funding for these projects, the South Carolina General Assembly passed a bill in 2017 that increases state funding for roads by $600 million per year.
Projects that were made possible by these investments include:
- South Carolina’s first inland port in Greer;
- Deepening of the Charleston Harbor;
- Creation of the Jasper Ocean Terminal; and
- Establishment of a second inland port in Dillon to connect the I-95 corridor to the Port of Charleston.
South Carolina Specific Challenges
Like the rest of the nation, South Carolina faces its own distinct challenges related to physical infrastructure as highlighted in recent reports published by the South Carolina Department of Transportation.
South Carolina’s aging infrastructure, changing weather patterns and storms increasing in intensity in recent years also present challenges for the growing demand on the logistics industry.
Recent and ongoing state and federal investments in transportation and distribution infrastructure will strengthen South Carolina’s competitiveness as a logistics hub.