A report released late last week once again points up how essential it is that Charleston’s shipping channel be deepened and its harbor overhauled. It also serves as a reminder that our infrastructure cannot be ignored.
The state Ports Authority was told the port handled 15 percent more containers in May than the same month the previous year. With 92,000 containers handled, May of this year was the port’s busiest since March 2007. While the world economy remains unsettled and largely unpredictable, it would be ludicrous for the state to simply wait it out. That’s a gamble the state and Ports Authority can ill afford to take and, thankfully, there are no signals any delays are on the horizon. In fact -- and pardon the pun -- the project seems to be full steam ahead.
South Carolina has a vital harbor and port along the nation’s eastern seaboard. Certainly, the nation sees South Carolina as a vital point of entry for many of the goods we consume and import. Too, Charleston is essential to American businesses that are exporting their goods, and in South Carolina alone there can be no doubt about the port’s importance. If the state plans to continue attracting major industries and manufacturers, the Charleston harbor must remain a factor in that formula.

For the state to grow and prosper with a diversified economy, the state must also reinvest in itself, in its infrastructure. Certainly because of the harbor and port’s impact on the national economy, federal dollars will be included. But beyond that, our state’s leadership must not continue to lose ground on maintaining existing roads and bridges while paying attention to future and longer-range needs. Too, rail remains a vital link and must be maintained.
Like it or not, South Carolina is in competition. Having a great harbor and port is not enough, the state has to keep up with and even, perhaps, ahead of the changes. A new generation of container ships, which are larger to hold more cargo and thus cut a deeper path through the waters, is on the way. That’s a given. It’s important, then, that South Carolina be seen as the port of choice and not let Georgia or another coastal state take our shipping business away from our shorelines.
Proper planning and investing in South Carolina can only help the Palmetto State achieve continued success in its ever-growing reputation as a key destination not only for tourists and retirees, but also for business and industry. And so we need the state’s leadership to channel its energies accordingly.