Ports Authority courts business in tough economy
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Shipping industry business is down overall, affecting the SC State Ports Authority. For instance, key partner Maersk shipping says it will suffer a $1 billion loss by the end of this year. Sales of consumer goods are down, so shipping is down.
That is why the State Ports Authority created an entirely new position to sell the Port of Charleston to shipping companies worldwide. They hired a Charleston native Sarah Gaillard to the new position of Vice President, Carrier Sales, effective this January.
Byron Miller of the Ports Authority says Galliard’s task is to sell the port to new users. “She’s been in shipping for more than 30 years. Most recently, she was with the North Carolina State Port Authority, but prior to that she lived in Charleston. She’s Charleston raised and went to the College of Charleston, so certainly she has South Carolina connections,” Miller says.
Galliard has work ahead of here as Port of Charleston officials say business is dropping because of the economy. It’s also dropping at a faster rate than other East Coast ports.
Ports partner Maersk shipping reported a heavy loss in the first nine months of the year-The Wall Street Journal reports that container companies are experiencing heavy losses worldwide due to the slowdown in trade. Miller says the port is still critical as an economic engine for the state.
“There are companies in every county that rely on the port to access their customers or their suppliers around the world, so keeping the ports competitive is essential, ” says Miller.
Miller says they will not wait for the economic tide to turn in order increase volume. New Ports Authority Director Jim Newsome has about a year in office, with a busy strategic plan, says Miller.
“There’s also direction on the Navy Base terminal and that we need to complete the new terminal here in Charleston, ” he says. ” Similarly the new port facility in Jasper County. that’s one of the priorities identified and we continue to make progress on that. And of course the sale of other property. Daniel Island, we just hired a company to represent us in the sale of about 500 acres of excess property on Daniel Island.”
Miller says the state’s ports have great momentum — including resigning Maersk, being part of a growing logistics network and the Port of Charleston’s role in a $98 million grant to the state to develop and ship wind energy turbines.