Belk in, BMW out at Charleston port 

Holiday shoppers are checking off the last items on their list, but the Port of Charleston got its Christmas wish early.

The State Ports Authority announced last week that department store Belk has started importing shipping containers at the rate of about 1,000 a year.

"The Port of Charleston's access to our distribution network and its reputation as one of the premier ports in the nation enhances our ability to serve our customers," said Diane Harties, director of private brand operations for Belk, which has 300 stores throughout the Southeast.

Mac Forehand, director of Southeast sales for Performance Team, Belk's shipping partner, says that the Port of Charleston's deep water capability is a major advantage in bringing in new business in the years leading to the Panama Canal improvements.

"Charleston has the deepest water in the Southeast region, and this is a growing market for retail business," he says. "We see a great future in Charleston or we wouldn't be here."

The news didn't come without a little coal in the stocking, though. The Baltimore Business Journal also reported last week that BMW began shipping the first of what's expected to be 50,000 vehicles a year through the Port of Baltimore, citing it as a cheaper, faster alternative than the Charleston port. —Greg Hambrick


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