The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) has received $21.68 million in funding it says is crucial for development of Walmart’s planned import distribution center.
The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the funding through its Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants.
The $21.68 million grant will be used for both on-site and off-site improvements to the port-owned Ridgeville Commerce Park, future home of Walmart’s 3 million-square-foot distribution center, the SCPA said. Walmart (NYSE: WMT) is slated to break ground on the mammoth facility in Dorchester County, South Carolina, in March. It is expected to take about 14 months to build and, when completed, reportedly will be the third-largest storage and cross-dock facility in the United States.
“This grant is an incredibly important component of developing the Ridgeville Commerce Park,” said SCPA Chief Operating Officer Barbara Melvin. “We are thrilled that the Trump administration saw the significance of enhancing site infrastructure in support of South Carolina’s economy and global trade.”
The SCPA said on-site improvements include building a 2-mile industrial access road, as well as a 20-acre truck chassis and empty container storage yard. Off-site improvements include widening South Carolina Highway 27 to provide improved access and traffic fluidity between the site and Interstate 26.
Walmart will be the first tenant in the Ridgeville Commerce Park. The retail giant will use the Ridgeville facility to supply several regional distribution centers and is expected to support about 850 Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs. Walmart’s $220 million investment in Dorchester County will create 1,000 full-time jobs and boost annual Port of Charleston volumes by 5%, the SCPA said.
Bill Stern, chairman of the SCPA board, said its purchase of the Ridgeville site in 2018 “will pay dividends to South Carolinians for generations to come as more companies move in, boosting cargo volumes at the port and creating jobs for residents.”
SCPA President and CEO Jim Newsome said this summer that retail distribution is the name of the game now.
“A port is dependent upon land to do big-scale retail distribution. We didn’t have a lot of that. So in 2018 we bought 1,000 acres in Ridgeville as sort of our starting point to really develop a retail distribution strategy,” Newsome said in June, about a month before Walmart announced its South Carolina site pick.