I am pleased the work plan today released by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers set aside $2.5 million to continue the on-going study to deepen Charleston Harbor. The federal share is matched by an equal contribution from the South Carolina State Ports Authority.
This is the most significant federal contribution made thus far to the Charleston Harbor deepening effort. It is a significant victory given the fact President Obama’s budget for Fiscal Year 2012 had nothing allocated for Charleston.
As a result of language we were able to include in last year’s spending bill, Charleston was eligible to receive funding to continue its deepening study. These funds are being awarded under a more merit-based system. We have always known that Charleston will fare well under that standard as harbor deepening is a worthwhile investment.
Today, about one out of every five jobs in South Carolina is tied – directly and indirectly – to the operation of the Port. Deepening the port will allow us to keep these jobs in our state and also create more jobs in the future.
President Obama will release his Fiscal Year 2013 budget next week and I am hopeful funds to deepen Charleston Harbor will be included. I continue to work with the Army Corps of Engineers and South Carolina State Ports Authority to explore avenues to help expedite the harbor deepening project from its estimated 2024 completion date.
Deepening Charleston Harbor is the number-one issue for South Carolina’s economy. The Port of Charleston is our economic gateway to the world. We have to ensure the harbor deepening process moves forward in an efficient and cost-effective manner. This is good news we’ll celebrate today, but we know the President’s budget release early next week is yet another important step in the process.