- THE MAGAZINE
Building upon the record-setting May volumes announced, the SC Ports Authority (SCPA) Board of Directors approved a 2015 fiscal year plan that includes across-the-board increases in cargo volumes, operating revenues and capital investments.
Plans for the new fiscal year beginning July 1 include 975,000 pier container moves, representing a 3.4 percent increase in pier container volume over estimated FY2014 totals. Pier container volumes have experienced strong growth in recent months with May as the busiest month since March 2007.
In non-containerized cargo business segments, the plan includes breakbulk tonnage increases of 9.8 percent in Charleston and 0.5 percent in Georgetown, driven largely by strong performance of state manufacturers.
"I'm confident our volumes will continue to grow above the market average," said Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO. "Revenues will also increase thanks to strength across all cargo segments and success at the Inland Port."
Operating revenues are expected to reach $172.8 million in FY2015, up $13.2 million from projected FY2014 totals.
The board approved capital investments of $113.5 million for the fiscal year. Projects over the next 12 months include improvements and enhancements to existing terminal systems and infrastructure as well as approximately $20 million in Navy Base Terminal construction costs.
The 2014 fiscal year drawing to a close on June 30 is marked by strong progress of all SCPA strategic projects. The Post-45 Harbor Deepening project continues to advance without delay, with the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on track to be released this summer and the Chief's Report in September of 2015. Fill activities continue at the Navy Base Terminal, with construction on-track to coincide with completion of harbor deepening. The Inland Port, which opened in October, is seeing increased traffic each month and has exceeded planned volumes.
The SCPA saw strong export growth throughout FY2014, with a 6.54 percent fiscal year to date increase in export twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) handled year over year. In total fiscal year to date TEU volume, the SCPA reported an increase of 7.03 percent over the same period last year, with 1,535,724 TEUs handled.
"Volume across all business segments continued to grow through the 2014 fiscal year, giving us the confidence to approve this aggressive plan," said SCPA Board Chairman Bill Stern. "Our port's performance is a strong reflection of our state's economic development successes, and it positions us well to serve imports and exports for our nation."
SCPA Positive Credit Rating Affirmed
A recent ratings report completed by Standard and Poor's Rating Services affirmed the long-term A+ credit rating and stable outlook of SCPA revenue bonds. A balanced import-export cargo base as well as diverse cargo and customer profiles were cited as key credit strengths, as well as the port's solid position in the Southeastern maritime commerce industry.
Other Board Action
The Board approved a $1.082 million contract to prepare Inland Port gate facilities infrastructure for the implementation of an upgraded terminal operating system. Construction is scheduled to begin in July and will be completed later this fall.