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Contact: Erin Dhand, Manager, Corporate Communications and Community Affairs
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Riley, President Discuss Charleston Deepening

Charleston, SC - City of Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. and Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the South Carolina State Ports Authority spoke with media at the Charleston International Airport today regarding work being done in Washington, D.C. to deepen Charleston Harbor. Mayor Riley met with President Barack Obama in the White House on Thursday, stressing the importance of Charleston Harbor Deepening to jobs, robust exports and the national economy.

Mayor Riley was in Washington, D.C. for the U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting and was one of 14 mayors invited to meet with the President to discuss how the Administration can help create jobs and spur the economy. He focused on the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project.

“I could think of no better way the Administration could help this city, this state and this region than by deepening Charleston harbor,” said Mayor Riley.  “To expand exports and create jobs, the United States must have a true 50-foot harbor in the Southeast, capable of handling the biggest and most modern ships.”

Mayor Riley highlighted rapidly expanding exports and the Administration’s goal of doubling exports. He noted that the Southeast is home to more exporters than any other region in the country.  “These exports aren’t just commodities. They represent jobs for hard working men and women who support their families.”

Mayor Riley also noted that exports tend to be heavier than imports, weighing down the ships that carry them.  At the same time, the ships serving world trade are getting larger.

“We greatly appreciate Mayor Riley’s leadership on Charleston harbor deepening, a strategic priority for our port that has broad, statewide support from the business community,” said Newsome. “Thousands of companies rely on the Port of Charleston, and more than 260,000 South Carolinians work in trade-related jobs.”

This past summer the Corps determined a federal interest in Charleston Harbor Deepening and concluded, "Preliminary studies at other nearby harbors show that Charleston Harbor would probably be the cheapest South Atlantic harbor to deepen to 50 feet."

Charleston already has the region’s deepest channels and handles post-Panamax ships actually drawing up to 48 feet on the tides today.  The next deepening will open the port to all classes of vessels under any tidal condition.

More than 300 ships too big for the Panama Canal have already called Charleston, four years before the $5-billion canal expansion is completed.  Nearly 80 percent of the ship capacity on order is for ships too big for the existing canal.

Last month, Mayor Riley joined nearly 100 other mayors from South Carolina in signing a letter to the President about the importance of Charleston deepening, asking to “fire up the dredges.”


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Barbara Vaughn, Director
Media Relations/Public Information
Phone: (843) 724-3746 Fax: (843) 724-3734

Byron Miller
Director, Marketing, Public Relations & Planning
South Carolina State Ports Authority
office: 843-577-8197
mobile: 843-514-9397