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Former SC Ports Opponent, Keith Summey, Now a Paid Consultant

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Former SC Ports Opponent, Keith Summey, Now a Paid Consultant

In an intriguing twist of events, Keith Summey, renowned former mayor of North Charleston and onetime opponent of the State Ports Authority’s expansion in the area, has now joined the maritime agency’s payroll as a consultant. In a move that highlights Summey’s transition from critic to advocate, the State Ports Authority (SPA) is now compensating the former mayor $5,000 a month for his assistance in preparing the former WestRock paper mill site to become an integral part of the Port of Charleston’s North Charleston Terminal.

From Opposition to Participation

Summey’s political journey and change in stance have been marked by a remarkable transformation. He had previously wielded considerable influence as North Charleston’s mayor, a position he held for three decades prior to his decision not to stand for reelection last year. In a move reflective of his changing role, Summey formed a consulting company, Summey Solutions LLC, with whom the SPA has committed to a consulting agreement that can be renewed every six months.

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The decision to engage Summey’s services came in the wake of SPA’s announcement last month that it would purchase the 280-acre paper mill site adjacent to the port’s container terminal along the Cooper River for $105 million, a development that will expand the port’s cargo capacity for at least the next 20 years.

The Don Holt Bridge Replacement

Furthering the plan of extension, the S.C. Department of Transportation announced last week that it would replace the Don Holt Bridge, a development set to pave the way for the East Coast’s largest and heaviest container ships to gain access to the expanded terminal.

Summey’s Expertise and Support

Barbara Melvin, the SPA’s president, and CEO explained the necessity of engaging Summey’s services. In her words, “The purchase of the WestRock site and modernization of North Charleston Terminal is a massive undertaking that requires great coordination, planning, and partnership among many entities, including the city of North Charleston, the surrounding community, key stakeholders, the S.C. Department of Transportation, Palmetto Railways, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.”

In her statement, Melvin further emphasized Summey’s perceived value to the SPA, stating, “Mayor Summey possesses a unique skill set to coordinate these efforts with the city and the community, and we will benefit from his involvement and experience.” Summey’s contract with the SPA was dated on the very day his successor as mayor, Reggie Burgess, took office.

Summey’s Advocacy for Community Interests

Summey’s past opposition to the SPA was primarily out of concern for his constituents, particularly regarding the SPA’s plan to build a container terminal at the city’s former Navy Base. His objections grew more pronounced when the SPA appeared to backtrack on their promise to build overpasses to alleviate the impact of rail traffic near Leatherman. This contention led Summey to threaten legal action against the SPA in the past.

However, Summey has shown enthusiasm for his new role and remains supportive of business development that aligns with the interests of the community. His appointment is viewed by many as a positive step towards fostering a harmonious relationship between the ports and the local populace, ensuring future developments serve to enhance the economic prospects of the state of South Carolina, particularly the Lowcountry region.


Former SC Ports Opponent, Keith Summey, Now a Paid Consultant

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This Article is sponsored by:


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