Local businesses leaders rally support for Port of Charleston, cruise industry

The region’s major business associations and their top leaders gathered June 27th for a press conference to rally in support of the Port of Charleston, the cruise industry and Carnival Cruise lines and the overall need to focus on growing and developing the region’s economy in response to the law suit filed last week against Carnival.

The groups present included:

Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce
Berkeley Chamber of Commerce
Charleston Regional Development Alliance
Charleston Restaurant Association
Charleston Trident Home Builders Association
Trident CEO Council
Maritime Association of South Carolina
Mt. Pleasant Business  Association
Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce
World Trade Center Charleston

All of the organizations today, represent thousands of members who are committed to supporting the Charleston area by creating a business environment and quality of life that advance the wealth and well-being of all Lowcountry citizens. The cruise industry has been part of our working waterfront for decades, bringing jobs and business to the area.

The lawsuit filed by the Coastal Conservation League is a direct attack on Carnival Cruise Lines and their ability to conduct business in the Port of Charleston. The cruise industry has a $37 million annual economic impact on the Charleston region by supporting hundreds of maritime jobs, including harbor pilots, stevedores and longshoremen. In addition, local businesses such as food suppliers, florists, office supply, healthcare, and more provide goods and services to the cruise industry.

“Is any community prosperous enough to turn its back on jobs and one of its top economic platforms?” said Ron Jones, Chairman of the Charleston Metro Chamber. “The Charleston Metro Chamber is committed to supporting our region, the lifestyle, jobs and businesses of our residents. Imagine the message this lawsuit against a private customer of the Port is sending to other businesses who may consider moving to our area?”

“The Port of Charleston is a critical statewide asset and a key economic engine for the Charleston region and for South Carolina,” said David Ginn, president & CEO of the Charleston Regional Development Alliance. “This lawsuit against one of the Port’s customers sends the wrong message to businesses worldwide. We must have a port that is healthy in order for our region to remain globally competitive.”

“The Port of Charleston and Carnival Cruise Lines provide numerous employment opportunities to our region.  Our Port has a significant economic impact on not only our region, but the entire state of South Carolina.  This lawsuit impedes on the well-being of our state, puts up another roadblock for our businesses trying to come out of an economical valley, and implies that South Carolina is not a business friendly state,” said Elaine M. Morgan, CEO, Berkeley Chamber of Commerce.

“This lawsuit is wrong and sends the wrong message to business around the world about our region.  We are not, in fact a place that doesn’t want business.  We are instead a community that welcomes new business and new jobs and opportunities for all,” said David Maybank III, Chairman, World Trade Center Charleston.

"During the otherwise dark days of 2009, Carnival selected Charleston for a new weekly cruise service.  While some few may see it differently, we on the waterfront view the magnificent Fantasy as a White Knight.  We're glad to have Carnival, and we look forward to a long and fruitful relationship,” said John Hassel, President, Maritime Association of South Carolina.

“We believe that the Port of Charleston is the single most important asset in our region.  It is the engine that drives business to our region and to the entire state of South Carolina.  The lawsuit not only sends a negative message to any business or industry that is considering relocating here, but also has a serious impact on existing industry and the lives of people that it supports.”  said Will Russell, Chairman of the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce.

“In this economy, job creation is our number one priority. Having Carnival as part of our community is necessary to reduce unemployment through their support of local businesses by bringing thousands of visitors to our great region. It is unfortunate that the CCL continues their policies of valuing their own self-interest, under the guise of saving our quality of life, over job creation for the middle class,” said Phillip Ford, Executive Vice President, Charleston Trident Homebuilders Association.

“There are legitimate concerns that should be addressed; however targeting the cruise line is only a diversionary tactic that is meant to drive away one of the top cruise lines in the industry. The opposition’s tactic to file a lawsuit against the cruise line, instead of the Ports Authority has damaged our port’s reputation in the international shipping community. It seeks to drive away other shipping industries that would call on our ports, further diminishing our ranking as an international port destination on the East Coast,” said Shawna Harris, president, Mt. Pleasant Business Association.  


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