Supply Chain Shift to Benefit Lowcountry Industrial Market

Key Takeaways

  • Charleston’s industrial market continues to strengthen with manufacturers and distributors seeking to improve logistics and operational efficiencies.  
  • Demand for rail service increases.
  • Rental rates are on the rise as construction costs increase and demand for space grows.
  • Capital investments from foreign and domestic firms confirm significant interest in the market.
  • Activity is up at the Port of Charleston. 
  • Industrial employment is at record-high levels.

Growing Importance of Efficient Logistics

Manufacturers and distributors are reassessing their logistics and supply chains as transportation costs increase.  The growing importance of efficient logistics is proving beneficial to the Charleston industrial market, which is connected to domestic and global markets via Interstate 26, rail service, the South Carolina Inland Port and the Port of Charleston.  

Activity is on the rise over recent years at the Port of Charleston.  170,527 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) were handled in August 2015, a 4.0% increase over 2014 and 48.5% increase over 2011.  The port handled approximately 1.9 million TEUs during the 2015 fiscal year, an increase of 14% over the 2014 fiscal year.  Port tonnage is expected to continue along its upward trend as the Panama Canal expansion allows larger vessels to pass.  Additionally, expansion at BMW in Greer, SC and new automotive production from Volvo and Mercedes-Benz Vans in Charleston will increase the number of vehicles handled at the port.  Retail distributors and cold food storage is also gaining popularity in the region, driving additional traffic to the port.  Lineage Logistics’ new cold storage facility is nearing completion at Palmetto Commerce Parkway in North Charleston and is expected to increase exports at the port.  The Port is investing $16.9 million to increase the terminal’s capacity to handle frozen and refrigerated cargo.  

Rail service has been gaining popularity across the U.S. and rail traffic volume is approaching pre-recession levels.  The Charleston region is serviced by two Class I railroads, CSX and Norfolk Southern.  Norfolk Southern rail services the South Carolina Inland Port in Greer, SC offering direct routes for both imports and exports.  Distributors and manufacturers have been showing greater demand for efficient, modern rail serviced sites and facilities with excess land for storage and staging.

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