Council receives federal funding to develop logistics industry cluster

The South Carolina Council on Competitiveness has received a federal grant to develop the state’s logistics industry cluster.  The $175,000 investment from the United States Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration will partially fund the Council’s initiative to strengthen and develop the state’s logistics industry.  The initiative is also funded by the South Carolina Department of Commerce.

“South Carolina has established itself as a key player in the logistics industry on the global stage,” said Ann Marie Stieritz, president & CEO of the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness.  “Our geographic location at the center of the southeastern United States, in addition to our transportation infrastructure – highways, railways, inland ports, the Port of Charleston, and proximity to international airports – give us a natural competitive advantage.”

The Council received a similar federal grant in 2013 to launch its initiative to develop the aerospace industry cluster, now known as SC Aerospace.

Stieritz said, “There are some differences between aerospace and logistics, but the principle is the same.  When the stakeholders come together to make a high-impact industry more competitive on the global stage, the result is economic growth that benefits South Carolina’s businesses and citizens.  It’s about maximizing our competitive advantages to get the maximum return for our state.”

According to the South Carolina Department of Transportation’s Multimodal Plan, over 375 million tons of freight, valued at nearly $600 billion, moved across South Carolina’s freight network in 2011.  That tonnage is expected to grow by 81 percent from 2011 to 2040.

Suzanne Dickerson, the former director of international business development for Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR), was recently hired to lead the Council’s effort. Dickerson says one of the first steps will be to conduct actionable research on the companies and assets within the industry.

“Our first step will be to understand what companies and assets we have in South Carolina’s logistics industry,” said Dickerson.  “Once we have that information, we can analyze their current impact on the state’s economy and identify opportunities for growth.”

The Council’s initiative will also convene an Executive Form for the industry’s private sector leaders to establish goals and objectives for a strategic plan.  The Council will also be working to support innovation by working with higher education institutions to develop an inventory of academic resources to solve industry problems.