Tallahassee leaders on a fact-finding trip to Greenville, S.C. were given tours of two Greenville-Spartanburg transportation assets on Tuesday.
The first tour was of the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP).
The GSP serves more than 2.3 million passengers each year with access to six major airlines. Combined, these airlines offer an average of 50 nonstop daily departures with direct service to 19 destinations across the U.S.
Due to the population of the the Greenville-Spartaburg Metropolitan Service Area (MSA) compared to Tallahassee, the Tallahassee International Airport (TLH) passenger numbers are not expected to compare to absolute GSP numbers.
However, the chart below shows that before the Great Recession, the TLH passenger trends followed the trends of GSP. It was after the recession that GSP growth began to significantly outpace passenger traffic at the Tallahassee Airport.
Tallahassee leaders also visited the South Carolina Inland Port which opened in October of 2013 and has become a major economic asset for the area.
The inland port extends the Port of Charleston’s reach 212 miles inland to Greer, S.C., and provides shippers with access to more than 95 million consumers within a one-day drive. Inland Port Greer boosts efficiency for international freight movements between the Port of Charleston and companies located across the Southeast, and the project is expected to create additional economic investment in the South Carolina Upstate, where BMW, Michelin and other international manufacturers already operate.
Norfolk Southern serves Inland Port Greer through its main rail line, and the facility is positioned along the Interstate 85 corridor between Charlotte and Atlanta, where Norfolk Southern operates additional rail yards. Rail service maximizes tonnage moved per gallon of fuel for importers and exporters, helping them save costs and lower their carbon footprint.
The inland port adds an additional benefit – access to empty containers – for regional shippers, who can send trucks to Greer for the containers they need to move their goods.
According to The State newspaper, the South Carolina Inland Port has become the Upstate’s “gateway to the world” and has exceeded all expectations since it opened three years ago to serve its first customer, BMW.
“Having the Inland Port in Spartanburg County is as close as you can get to having Charleston’s port here,” said Spartanburg County Councilman David Britt, chairman of council’s economic development committee. “It’s a gateway to the world for business and industry.”
Both tours relate directly to the targeted industry sectors identified by the Great Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce which include aviation, transportation, and logistics.
The question now is will the fact-finding trip provide new information that will help leaders address the opportunities and challenges associated with these industry sectors that will benefit the Tallahassee economy.