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Former North Charleston Mayor, Keith Summey, Now Consultant for SC Ports Authority

Port consultant at work.

Former North Charleston Mayor, Keith Summey, Now Consultant for SC Ports Authority

Keith Summey, former opponent of the South Carolina Ports Authority’s (SPA) expansion and ex-mayor of North Charleston, has now been hired as a consultant by the same maritime agency, marking a significant shift in the relationship between these two entities.

From Opposition to Collaboration

Once an adversary of the SPA’s expansion plans, Summey is now working with the agency to support further development. With remuneration of $5,000 per month, Summey assists in preparing the old WestRock paper mill site to become part of SPA’s container terminal in North Charleston. His consulting agreement, made through his business Summey Solutions LLC, can be prolonged every six months.

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Last month, SPA agreed to purchase the 280-acre paper mill site for $105 million, which lies next to the port’s container terminal along the Cooper River. This purchase will provide sufficient cargo capacity for the forthcoming two decades. Additionally, the S.C. Department of Transportation has pledged to replace the Don Holt Bridge to offer access to the biggest and largest container ships visiting the East Coast at the expanded terminal.

Summey’s Contribution

“The acquisition of the WestRock property and the upgrade of the North Charleston Terminal are ambitious projects requiring effective coordination, planning, and partnership among various interested parties. These include the city of North Charleston, the local community, essential stakeholders, S.C. Department of Transportation, Palmetto Railways, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control,” said Barbara Melvin, the president, and CEO of SPA.

According to Melvin, Summey has a unique ability to manage these collaborations with the city and the community. The agency expects to gain from his involvement and experience. Summey’s contract started on January 2, the same day his mayor successor, Reggie Burgess, took office.

A Complicated History

The relationship between Summey and SPA has a checkered history. During his tenure as mayor, Summey fervently opposed SPA’s plan to construct a container terminal at the city’s former Navy Base. This plan was mandated in the 2000s when state lawmakers rejected proposals to build a massive terminal on Daniel Island.

The mayor’s objections centered primarily on three overpasses SPA initially agreed to build to reduce the impact of rail traffic near the Leatherman Terminal. When SPA appeared to hesitate on fulfilling this promise, Summey was prepared to sue the agency. However, by late 2021, an amicable agreement had been reached between the two parties.

Despite their contentious past, Summey remains optimistic about his current role. As he stated, “Bottom line is they’re going to be here. The best that we could do is ensure that the community and the port work together to make sure that it’s advantageous to the economy of South Carolina and especially the Lowcountry.”


Former North Charleston Mayor, Keith Summey, Now Consultant for SC Ports Authority

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This Article is sponsored by:


7001 St Andrews Rd #329 ,Columbia, SC 29212,United States
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