GREER, SC (WMBF) - A huge economic boon could be coming to the Pee Dee. On Wednesday, the South Carolina Ports Authority announced plans to pursue building a second inland port facility.
The Ports Authority has identified a site in Dillon County it said represents, "significant base cargo opportunities."
The agency referenced Dillon County's access to an existing rail line with CSX, which could provide access to southeastern markets as well as the Midwest. Its proximity to Interstate 95 is also noted as an important benefit, since the highway was cited as a, "critical transportation artery in the Southeast."
Dillon Mayor Todd Davis said this new development could help put the community on the map.
"This is going to be a catalyst that's going to going to redefine Dillon probably more than it ever has been," Davis said. "Dillon was built on the railroads. We've got two railroads going through town. They were a big part of recruiting this and they were also a big player as the railroad. Now, it seems like, due to a lot of collaboration through state officials, local officials and so forth, that it's finally coming into play.
"People don't yet realize the impact of what this is going to be, not just for Dillon, but the state of South Carolina."
The Ports Authority cited the success of the first inland port, Port Greer, as one of its most successful investments and a reason for a second inland port facility. The agency said rail lines moved about 23 percent of shipments imported or exported through Charleston in 2015, and the business has seen a 166 percent growth since 2011, increasing the need for a second inland port.
T.F. Finklea, Dillon County Council Chairman, said the county is, "excited about the possibility for Dillon to be the site of the next inland port and look forward to partnering with the South Carolina Port Authority to help make this a reality."
Brad Dean, president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, also applauded the SCPA's announcement about the second inland port facility.
"Once complete, this project could ultimately provide significant economic benefits to the Myrtle Beach area through the creation of additional jobs, at higher wages," Dean said in a statement. "In addition to the economic development opportunities, a second inland port would expand many transportation options throughout the state and would be a perfect complement to I-73 when it's completed."
SCPA and CSX hope to finalize plans for an Inland Port in Dillon County by the end of this year.