Transportation, Distribution, Logistics Industry Cluster Holds Statewide Summit
Public officials and industry leaders explore dimensions of the cluster
Over 200 people attend the 5th Annual Transportation Distribution & Logistics (TDL) Summit March 17th at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. The day-long agenda highlighted the different dimensions of the cluster and touched on infrastructure funding.
Three panels explored the needs of the state’s tire manufacturers, logistics of military operations at Fort Jackson, and the operations of South Carolina’s three major airports. Other presentations included the effect of alternative energy on the cluster and the offerings of the USC Center for Global Supply Chain & Process Management at the Darla Moore School of Business.
Page Siplon, CEO of TeamOne Logistics and former Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, started the day with a presentation on “The Changing Logistics Ecosystem: Talent, Technology & Trade.” Siplon presented data showing there will be 1 million TDL job openings by 2018.
Speaker Jay Lucas headlined the event and focused his remarks on roads funding. “South Carolina simply has too many roads to take care of,” Lucas said. “While South Carolina is the 40th-largest state in terms of area, it has the fourth-largest highway system with more than 40,000 miles of roads. About 20,000 miles of those roads are blacktops, many of which are no more than a quarter- to a half-mile long, that were paved years ago when state senators ran the counties.” Lucas said his first task after the Easter Break will be sorting through the different roads funding bills.
Other public leaders addressing the audience were Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt, Secretary of Transportation Janet Oakley and President of South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) Jim Newsome.
Secretary Hitt’s remarks focused on the importance of the TDL cluster to South Carolina’s ability to attract new businesses. “Our efforts at commerce to create and maintain jobs are only as good as our TDL industry,” he said. Secretary Hitt also highlighted significant announcements of locations and expansions this year, such as Amazon expanding in Lexington County, Broad River Furniture locating in York County, and Rite Aid locating a distribution center in Spartanburg County.
Secretary Oakley’s remarks focused on the 2040 Multimodal Transportation Plan (MTP) released in 2014 by the Department of Transportation and the department’s estimated $1.5 billion per year needed to repair the state’s roads and to build new ones.
President & CEO of the South Carolina Ports Authority Jim Newsome said the harbor deepening project will make the Port of Charleston more competitive, but to compete with Asian and European markets, the Port must prepare to handle ships with 14,000 and over TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units, or containers). Meanwhile, the Upstate’s inland port has grown larger than the inland port in Front Royal, Virginia, after just one year of operation. Newsome also said the Port’s goal is to grow from the nation’s ninth-ranked container port to the nation’s fifth-ranked container port by 2020.
About the TDL Council
The Transportation, Distribution and Logistics (TDL) Council is an industry cluster supported by the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness to bring together public and private sector leaders to help the state compete for jobs, investment and industry leadership for the TDL industry. The TDL Council will identify and eliminate major industry obstacles and roadblocks to competitiveness with regards to infrastructure, incentives, workforce and more. The Council will drive solutions to address these issues and help direct focused investments of public sector dollars. Additional information is available at www.tdlcouncilsc.com.