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The Port of Greer, South Carolina


Two of the most significant economic drivers for our region are the Ports of Savannah, GA, and Charleston, SC. These two locations are responsible for shipping and receiving billions upon billions of dollars of goods annually. If you take time out on your next trip to either city, you will be amazed to see the economic magnetism that these port facilities have created for those cities.

Recently, I went on a trip to Greenville, South Carolina, and while I am usually the driver focused on the intensive traffic on I-85, this week, I was happily a passenger. As we got closer to Greenville, I noticed new building after new building of manufacturing, warehouse, and office space adjacent to the interstate. I was struck not only by the number of facilities, but the names on the buildings as well. They were all foreign companies. While meeting with a local businessman, we started discussing the area, and when I asked why so many foreign companies were in the region, he replied, “It’s because of the port.” I said, “In Charleston?” “No,” he replied, “the Port of Greer, SC.”  In response to the parts needs of the large automaker BMW, the state of South Carolina decided to develop a container facility in Greer, SC, designating it as an “Inland Port Facility.” Positioned 212 miles from the Port of Charleston, this inland port was established by the Port Authority of South Carolina in collaboration with Norfolk Southern and Southern Railway. Open 24/7, the inland port operates as an express route between Greer and Charleston, moving thousands of containers each month. During August of 2023, a record-breaking 17,000 containers were moved between the two locations. Transporting containers through rail offers both cost savings and an estimated 80% reduction in carbon footprint compared to trucking.

How successful has the inland port been for Spartanburg and Greenville County, SC? The famous quote, “If you build it, they will come,” springs to mind. And indeed, they flocked to the Greenville/Spartanburg area. Over 400 international companies from over 40 countries have opened facilities along the I-85 corridor. Several factors have attracted foreign companies to the area, including affordable land, a reliable workforce, a pro-business legislature, and a world-class port. The inland port’s connectivity to the interstate highway system offers companies access to 94 million people within 500 miles of humble Greer, South Carolina. The port has been so successful in its ability to attract new companies and create new jobs that the state is expanding the facility, pouring in an additional $50 million of capital to double the capacity of the port that never sees a boat.

Carl Gambrell