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176 Concord Street, P.O. Box 22287, Charleston, SC 29413-2287
Contact: Erin Dhand, Manager, Corporate Communications and Community Affairs
Telephone: 843-577-8121 • Fax: 843-577-8127 • e-mail: EDhand@scspa.com


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2/13/2012

Charleston Deepening Gets $3.5 Million in President's Budget
Federal Share of Feasibility Study Now More than Halfway Funded

Charleston, SC - For the first time, the President’s Budget includes funding for Charleston Harbor Deepening, demonstrating that leaders at the highest levels of government recognize the project as one critical to the nation’s economic future.

In the budget announced today, the Administration included $3.549 million for Charleston’s post-45 foot deepening project for fiscal year 2013, which begins October 1, 2012.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Administration for recognizing the importance of the Port of Charleston in the national economic strategy,” said Bill Stern, chairman of the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) Board. “This funding puts us well on our way to completing the feasibility phase of this project so we can move expeditiously to deepening Charleston Harbor.

“Sen. Lindsey Graham, along with Congressman Jim Clyburn, has gone above and beyond to champion this project with the Administration,” Stern said. “Additionally, Mayor Riley’s involvement has been invaluable as he has used every opportunity with the President to emphasize Charleston Harbor’s merits.”

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of the release last week of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Work Plan for the rest of fiscal year 2012, which included $2.5 million for the continued work on the Charleston Harbor post-45 foot deepening project. The latest allocation, if approved by Congress, also means that the federal government’s share of the study cost is now more than halfway funded.

“We welcome any future opportunity to show the Administration that their investment in Charleston is the nation’s best buy in harbor projects, with a payoff in new jobs and economic growth across the region,” Stern said.

The feasibility study is estimated at $20 million, which is cost-shared 50/50 between the federal government and the South Carolina Ports Authority. The SCPA also has committed to accelerate its half of the study funds as needed to continue to advance the project.

The Corps stated in its Reconnaissance Study in 2010 that Charleston is likely “the cheapest South Atlantic harbor to deepen to 50 feet.” Charleston’s harbor deepening project is estimated to deliver $106 million in net benefits annually for an approximately $140-million federal investment. The total deepening project is estimated at $300 million.

Funds for the nation’s Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works projects in the President’s Budget represented a 5.4 percent decrease in funding from the previous year. The Budget document stated that the savings were achieved “by prioritizing investments that will yield high economic and environmental returns.” The President’s Budget also included $15.8 million for maintenance dredging in Charleston Harbor.

With 45 feet of depth at mean low water, Charleston currently has the deepest channels in the South Atlantic region and can handle ships drafting up to 48 feet on high tide. Deepening Charleston Harbor will open the port to expanded trade opportunities and increased big-ship traffic via the new locks of the Panama Canal 24 hours a day.

Already in 2012, the Port of Charleston has handled 24 ships with actual docking or sailing drafts 40 feet or greater, too deep for today’s Panama Canal.

About the South Carolina Ports Authority:
The South Carolina Ports Authority, established by the state's General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport facilities in Charleston and Georgetown, handling international commerce valued at more than $58 billion annually while receiving no direct taxpayer subsidy.  An economic development engine for the state, port operations facilitate 260,800 jobs across South Carolina and nearly $45 billion in economic activity each year.  For more information, visit http://www.scspa.com.

Additional Quotes from South Carolina Leaders:

“This is great news for Charleston and our state’s economy. I want to thank President Obama for his leadership on this important project, and I will continue to work with him, the Army Corps of Engineers and my colleagues in Congress to get this project done.”

"This is the type of funding that the federal government should be investing in. The Charleston Port has gone through a merit-based process to prove its importance to our nation, and has obviously proven that worth not only to those of us in South Carolina, but to the President as well. While there are many problems with the President's budget - tax hikes and spending increases to name two - this is something he got right."

"I am pleased to see the President has included $3.5 million dollars in the FY2013 budget for the Charleston harbor deepening project.  The Charleston port is important to job creation in South Carolina as well as the Southeast.  It is my hope that the President will continue to support such measures that provide for economic growth and help put our American families back to work."

“It’s another great day in South Carolina, and we are so appreciative for this recognition that the future of the Port of Charleston is a priority for the region and the country.”

“I am happy the President provided $3.5 million to move this critical project farther down the road. We will continue to pursue ways to come up with money to complete this dredging project and secure a bright future for South Carolina.”

“The Port of Charleston has long been our state’s gateway to the rest of the world. For our citizens to succeed in the global arena of the future, our port must remain competitive. Without this project, generations of South Carolinians will not achieve the quality of life they would have had otherwise.”

“This word will spread to the most important folks - the shippers - that we are truly open for business now and even more so in the future.”

“This is a great victory for the South Carolina Ports Authority in our ongoing effort to deepen Charleston Harbor.  With 1 in every 5 South Carolina jobs tied to our ports, it’s nice to see Washington take action on something that will promote real job creation.  As our state’s lawmakers are committed to doing everything possible on our side to make this project a reality, it is encouraging to see Washington stepping up to the plate on this vital economic development project.”

“I am pleased to see that the President is investing in Charleston as a true post-Panamax harbor, as all other projects being studied in the region come up short.”

“I, along with my fellow members of the South Carolina General Assembly, as evidenced in my Concurrent Resolution, am pleased President Obama included in his 2013 federal budget the funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue a feasibility study on deepening Charleston Harbor to at least fifty feet.”

“The deepening of Charleston’s Harbor is critically important to our port, our community, our region, and our state’s economic success in the future. A deepened harbor translates into jobs in our community and throughout South Carolina and is a great benefit to businesses in this part of our country.”

“As the Port of Charleston is a vital part of the economy of our region and state, we are very pleased that President Obama has placed money in his budget to bring our Port’s deepening project closer to a reality.”

“This is great news for South Carolina. The Charleston Harbor Deepening is essential to long-term economic success in our state, and presents a compelling business opportunity for the United States as we prepare for the Panama Canal expansion.”

“Today’s announcement is a significant milestone in the Port’s ongoing effort to deepen its harbor. For manufacturing to continue to grow in South Carolina, we must have port facilities that can efficiently handle cargo which more and more will be carried by post-Panamax ships. If we can deepen Charleston’s harbor, finish the Navy Base expansion, and build adequate infrastructure surrounding the port, Charleston will maintain its place as a port of choice for the manufacturing sector.”

“The business community is pleased that the president, at the request of our federal delegation, included $3.5 million in his budget for Charleston’s post-45 foot deepening project. Today’s announcement shows that creating jobs is a bipartisan effort. The completion of harbor deepening is critical to companies all over the state that do business with the port. This announcement is another great step in the right direction for South Carolina and the entire Southeast region.”

“The Port is a key attraction asset and a deciding factor for companies considering the Charleston market for an expansion or location. Companies today require efficient access to world markets and as the deepest harbor in the South Atlantic, Charleston is strategically positioned to offer those direct connections. We are thankful our leaders recognize the tremendous economic boost the deepwater Port of Charleston offers our region, our state and also our nation.”