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January 29, 2009

Plan Will Demand Strict Accountability & Boost State’s Economy

Columbia, SC – January 29, 2009 – Members of the South Carolina Senate today took action and filed a plan that restructures the State Ports Authority. The plan forces strict accountability and stability to ensure that the State Ports Authority will remain a primary economic engine for the state. Introduced by Senators Glenn McConnell (R-Charleston), Larry Grooms (R-Berkeley), Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence), and John Land (D-Clarendon) the plan’s most substantive reforms create additional legislative oversight and restructures the governance, management, and planning structure of the State Ports Authority.

South Carolina’s economic growth is directly linked to the success of the Port of Charleston. Unfortunately, while its competitors have seen consistent growth over the past several years, container traffic through the Port of Charleston has dropped precipitously. Once the largest port on the east coast, the Charleston port has dropped to the fourth ranking and now faces the risk of losing its biggest client.  All while port officials take exorbitant bonuses and critics blame management and the lack of transparency and stability within the State Ports Authority.

“The port is too important to the economic vitality of our state to be used as a political tool. We’ve got to take the politics out of the port’s operations and demand that it be run like a business,” Senator McConnell stated. “Job creation comes with long term planning, not political trade winds.”

Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Larry Grooms agreed.  “One in ten South Carolina jobs are tied to our port. We must send a strong signal to the world’s shippers that we are demanding stability.”

Grooms continued, “The port is a tool for investment and an enterprise for job creation. Our plan demands accountability and oversight and ensures that well qualified Board members will lead the port to success. It develops long-range goals that will boost our state’s economy and put many families back to work.”

The restructuring plan:

  • Demands stability and strong management.
  • Emphasizes long-range and strategic planning, oversight, accountability, and transparency.
  • Increases stability by ensuring that Board members can only be removed with just cause.
  • Ensures that Board members have experience relevant to the Port’s mission. The plan sets all duties and qualifications for the Board members and the Executive Director.
  • Creates an Advisory & Oversight Board to assist in developing a long-term policy for Port success. The Advisory & Oversight Board will carry out oversight duties and provide annual financial reports to the General Assembly.
  • Requires the SPA to create a twenty-year strategic plan, which must be reviewed by the General Assembly.


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