NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston Harbor is getting ready for a big increase in traffic once the deepening project is complete.
Wednesday the South Carolina Ports Authority celebrated the grand opening of a big expansion needed for the port's future growth.
If you're seeing more cargo trains and 18-wheelers in the North Charleston area there's a reason for that.
The expanded New Orleans Cold Storage warehouse is bustling to get product out the doors and onto ships in the harbor.
It's a business that has increased 38% since 2011 for the Ports Authority.
"Refrigerated cargo is one of the most attractive market segments for shipping lines," said President & CEO, Jim Newsome, of the Ports Authority. "It's a high value product for shippers and receivers, so it's good news for the port."
The expansion has increased the facility's blast freezing capabilities by 50%.
We're talking about chicken, pork, beef, seafood and more traveling right through Charleston.
"Charleston is a very vibrant port because of the Southeast population, and really all of the protein production that's in the Southeast," said President & CEO, Mark Blanchard, of New Orleans Cold Storage. "There's so much more of this product going to export because of the growing middle class around the world."
With the growing popularity in the refrigerated cargo market, more warehouses could be built.
"Helping our people find good jobs, and making good wages," said North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey. "Plus this is a new facility is on the tax rolls, so it gives us revenue to enhance the services that we provide in the city as well."
"All evidence of port related jobs pay better than the average job," Newsome said.
With the harbor deepening project on the table, even more cargo is expected to find its way here.
"Most customers believe Charleston will be the ultimate winner as the ships get larger and larger and the drafts of these ships get deeper and deeper," Blanchard said.
The facility has been in North Charleston since 1987 and provides cold storage for import meats from Australia, New Zealand, Central America and South America.
The manager of the new warehouse said they are currently looking for more employees.
One of the details that interested applicants should know about is the cold working temperatures due to the refrigerator and freezer.
"It's kept at -15 degrees Fahrenheit 365 days a year," Blanchard said.
Blanchard added the Charleston facility is the busiest cold storage warehouse for the company in the Southeast.
News Orleans Cold Storage also has warehouses in New Orleans, Louisiana and Houston, Texas.