State Ports Authority refrigerated cargo

The State Ports Authority has opened a $14 million refrigerated cargo service facility at its Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant to support growth in imports and exports of cold and frozen products. Provided/State Ports Authority

The State Ports Authority has opened a $14 million refrigerated cargo service area at its Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant to help accommodate growth in shipments of cold and frozen products through the Port of Charleston.

The six-acre facility, approved in January by the SPA's board of directors, includes a 12-lane service canopy where truckers can more easily process refrigerated cargo. The site includes storage and staging areas for diesel-powered generators and container washing areas.

The SPA also added four five-story refrigerated container racks that provide 120 more electrical plugs for cold-storage containers, bringing the port's total to 1,700 plugs. Four additional racks of the same size are under construction and scheduled for completion in January.

Refrigerated cargo volumes have grown 86 percent since 2011 at the Port of Charleston, driven by its proximity to pork and poultry producers in the Carolinas.  

"Expansion of refrigerated cargo is a strong driver of (the port's) overall volume growth, and our capital investment in refrigerated cargo infrastructure reflects a strategic commitment to our cold-chain customers," Jim Newsome, the SPA's president and CEO, said in a statement.

In addition to the SPA's on-terminal services, private companies — including Agro Merchants Group, Lineage Logistics and New Orleans Cold Storage — have built more than 660,000 square feet of warehouse space featuring cold storage and blast-freezing capabilities in the Charleston region.

The new service area at Wando Welch is adjacent to property where the SPA is building its new headquarters building. The $40 million office space, to be completed next year, will have nearly twice the space of the maritime agency's longtime Concord Street headquarters on the Charleston peninsula. The SPA sold its downtown site this year to Los Angeles developer Lowe Enterprises, which is planning a 225-room luxury hotel for the property.

Air France (copy)

Boeing has delivered 65 Dreamliners in the first half of 2017, including this North Charleston-made 787-9 to Air France in April. File/Provided

Dreamliner data

Boeing Co. said it delivered 33 787 Dreamliners during the second quarter of 2017, one more than during the first quarter to bring the half-year total to 65 deliveries of the wide-body jet.

The totals for the first six months of 2017 trail the 68 Dreamliners brought to customers during the same period in 2016.

Meanwhile, workforce levels at Boeing's North Charleston facilities — including a campus where Dreamliners are built — continue to fall.

The aerospace giant said its Boeing South Carolina division had 7,320 employees and contractors as of June 29 — 59 fewer than the previous month. That is the lowest employment level since November 2013, when the aerospace giant reported 7,123 workers in North Charleston.

A total of 922 positions have been trimmed over the past year — a nearly 11.2 percent decline since May 2016, when monthly job totals began to decline.

The lower June numbers don't include layoffs that were announced toward the end of that month. Boeing said it would issue involuntary layoffs to fewer than 200 workers at its North Charleston sites, but those cutbacks don't take effect until August.

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Train talk

Officials with Palmetto Railways will discuss plans this week for a new rail project linking the Camp Hall Industrial Campus with Santee Cooper's Cross Generating Station during an open house from 1 p.m.-7 p.m. at the Cross High School gymnasium in Cross.

The public is invited to drop in at Tuesday's open house at any time during those hours to talk with railroad officials and review plans, including proposed routes for the roughly 10-mile line.

The project will serve the $500 million Volvo Cars manufacturing facility under construction at the Camp Hall site near Ridgeville. It's also designed to drum up more manufacturing interest in the 6,800-acre industrial park. Volvo plans to begin producing vehicles at the site late next year.

"Since our initial community meeting last year, we have been working diligently with federal agencies, regional stakeholders, agencies and members of the community to identify the best possible rail routes with the least impacts on the community and environment," Jeff McWhorter, the railroad's president and CEO, said in a statement. "We are looking forward to sharing our findings with the public."

Those who can't make it to the meeting can learn more about the project at the project's website at www.CampHallRail.com.

Palmetto Railways, a short-line railroad that's part of the S.C. Commerce Department, will build, own and operate the Berkeley County rail line. The cost of the project has not been determined.

Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_