Dollar Tree putting down roots in Upstate S.C. Ports likely to see big benefits from $104M center

Dollar Tree will build a regional distribution center in Cherokee County.

State economic development officials on Monday confirmed what had been rumored for weeks — the Dollar Tree discount retailer will build a regional distribution center in Cherokee County.

The $104.4 million facility, scheduled to open next year, is likely to be a boon for the State Ports Authority because Dollar Tree is the nation’s 10th-largest importer, bringing more than 135,000 cargo boxes full of merchandise into U.S. seaports each year.

Stephen White, Dollar Tree’s chief logistics officer, cited the SPA’s inland port in Greer as one of the reasons the retailer chose to locate in the Upstate. Imports coming through the Port of Charleston can be loaded onto a train and taken directly to the inland port, which is about 30 miles from the distribution center site along U.S. Interstate 85 in Cowpens.

“Their Upstate location is ideally suited for serving the growing Southeastern consumer market, and the inland port in Greer provides them with overnight access to import cargo for retail distribution,” Jim Newsome, the SPA’s CEO, said in a statement. “The port’s investment in infrastructure to support Dollar Tree operations will be returned through significant volumes over the coming years, and we look forward to serving their import logistics needs.”

Bobby Hitt, South Carolina’s commerce secretary, called Chesapeake, Va.-based Dollar Tree’s decision “a testament to the logistics advantages and pro-business reputation the Palmetto State has earned.”

The distribution center is expected to create about 400 jobs over the next five years. It will be the 11th center — and at 1.5 million square feet, the largest — for Dollar Tree, which recently acquired rival Family Dollar and has 13,600 stores in 48 states and Canada, including more than 100 in South Carolina. The new warehouse will be within 500 miles of 93 million U.S. consumers.

Construction is scheduled to start this month.

“Dollar Tree has been extremely impressed with the South Carolina transportation infrastructure which will support the Upstate distribution center,” White said in a statement. “The current Interstate 85 widening project and the efficiencies associated with the Greer Inland Port were instrumental in our site-selection process.”

The SPA’s board last month unanimously approved spending up to $500,000 on public infrastructure for the facility. The state’s Coordinating Council for Economic Development last week approved a $1.5 million grant to help Dollar Tree build the center. South Carolina also will help the retailer recruit and train workers through its ReadySC program administered by the state’s technical college system.

Using the Charleston waterfront also could make Dollar Tree eligible for tax breaks through the state’s port-volume credit program. The company could get up to $8 million per year in rebates of income or employee withholding taxes based on the amount of business it does with the port.

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