DILLON COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The South Carolina Ports Authority held a grand opening for the highly anticipated Inland Port Dillon Monday morning.
The new port is located 130 miles from the Port of Charleston's container terminals. With the main CSX railway, Inland Port Dillon is projected to carry 45,000 containers of consumer products to and from Charleston's seaport.
"To have this inland port, this rail line connecting with the Port of Charleston, essentially bringing it right up here to the Pee Dee hooking up with I-95, is off the scale in terms of innovation, forward thinking and progress," South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said. "This is going to change everything in this region. It'll make the state stronger."
South Carolina Ports Authority CEO Jim Newsome said they chose Dillon for three reasons: an anchor tenant in Harbor Freight Tools, train service with CSX along the East Coast, and support from the Dillon community.
"It's very important for us to build infrastructure where it's appreciated and where it's needed," Newsome said.
Monday's grand opening comes shortly after the S.C. Council on Competitiveness touted Dillon County as an ideal location for warehouse operations.
The study shows that importers could expect an operating cost of $15.3 million annually, the lowest cost among 20 locations in the U.S.
Dillon County Administrator Rodney Berry adds I-95 being "paved gold" for industries, along with CSX running their main line through the county, makes the perfect combination for business.
"We've been working so hard to get some momentum and today we realize that momentum by way of the inland port, which is just huge in every possible way," Berry said.
Dillon County has an unemployment rate of 6.2 percent, one of the highest in the Pee Dee. While the new port adds 18 jobs, Berry said the county can expect thousands of jobs from businesses coming to the area.
"We have industries calling us really on a weekly basis wanting to realize those savings so we're entertaining industrial prospects, several on a weekly basis," Berry said. "Within a decade I think you'll being looking at a very different Dillon County and surrounding counties."