Successful Launch of the South Carolina Chapter of the Netherlands American Chamber of Commerce for the South East (NACCSE).
On May 22nd and 23rd the Consul General Simone Filippini and members of the Dutch community had the pleasure to visit the beautiful historic Charleston and the Capitol Columbia in South Carolina.
The visit was set around the celebration of the launching event of the local
Chapter of the Netherlands American Chamber of Commerce for the South East in
Charleston, South Carolina. This initiative was taken by NACCSE and the
Consulate General to promote a prosperous relationship between Dutch business
and the local business community in Charleston.
The overall theme of the visit was “Transportation and Logistical Services”, including the aerospace technology. The Netherlands as the Gateway to Europe is a natural champion as to transportation and logistics and has a strong core competence in aerospace. Companies like Schiphol airport, KLM, Avio-Diepen, Fokker and Stork have already presence in the South East of the US. And the transportation and aerospace industry are two important economic drivers in South Carolina as well.
Important partners during this visit were the local Dutch business men: Mr. Edward Kluiters, Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd; Johan Prins, Prins Advisory Services; Emil Lansu, PeregrineStrategic Advisors LLC; Pieter van der Toorn, Interface Flor and President of the Netherlands American Chamber of Commerce for the SE.
The Consul general was delighted to meet with the Mayor of Charleston, Mr. Joseph Riley Jr. The Mayor is a true builder of Charleston and made great changes to the city during his 10 terms as a Mayor. He made Charleston into a livable city and has attracted people to live here and many tourists to visit Charleston. Except for being a beautiful city, Charleston is developing a strong high-tech knowledge economy and developed an excellent environment for bioscience and medical technology companies. The Port of Charleston is a major generator for its economy. New opportunities lie in the aeronautics and aerospace industry. And with the arrival of Boeing Group about 6.000 jobs have been created. Due to the first official test flight of the Boeing 787, we had to postpone our visit to Boeing. A visit is now foreseen later this year, in the fall.
On the first day a visit was brought to CH Robinson, a US freight forwarded and service provider with a EU headquarter in Amsterdam. Followed by a visit to the Dutch Chemical company DSM Nutrition in Kingstree. DSM Nutrition produces a 100% vegetarian DHA (vegetarian Omega3 from algae). The reason both companies choose SC is the attractive environment to live and work, lower cost of living and the availability of highly skilled people. According to DSM SC has a favorable climate as to laws, regulations and local requirements, which was also mentioned as the reason why Boeing moved from a heavily regulated area to SC.
The next day we visited the Clemson University Restoration Institute (CURI)
and the Port of Charleston.
Clemson University is an Agricultural and Engineering University and CURI was established in 2004 to drive economic growth by creating, developing and fostering restoration industries and environmentally sustainable technologies in South Carolina. The research CURI is conducting is on six focus areas: Advanced Materials, Processes and Systems; Community Revitalization; Historic Preservation and Materials Conservation; Renewable Energy; Resilient Infrastructure; Restoration Ecology. Clemson has received a Request for Proposal (RFP) from the Department of Energy to build an Offshore Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing facility. A shared facility model with open access for companies where they will build and test a 7.5MW test stand with static off axis load and a 15MW test stand with a dynamic load. These areas seem to correspond very well with strong Dutch expertise and it both parties concluded that contacts with Dutch research partners might lead to interesting cooperation.
In the afternoon we visited the Port of Charleston, an impressive port owned by the state and operating two public seaports: Charleston and Georgetown. Charleston is the 8th largest US seaport and shipped $58B cargo in 2011, 1.8M TEU’s. The Economic impact of the Port’s operation resulted in $44.8B statewide and 260.000 direct and indirect jobs in various sectors. A $100B project for the deepening of the Charleston harbor to 50 foot has been approved by the Federal Administration to enable post-Panamax container vessels to reach the port beyond the two hour time frame of the high tide the port presently works with. And there is room to grow: the port will reclaim 60 acres of land from the Cooper river and Wando river. The Netherlands is the 4th largest partner for the Port of Charleston (container freight). 36% of trade is between Europe. The port has 6 weekly ships to Rotterdam.
During the meeting with the Secretary of State in Columbia, Mr. Robert Hitt, the cooperation opportunities with the Netherlands are particularly promising in the automobile, aerospace , logistics and agriculture sectors. Tourism might be added to this list. The Consul General generated the idea to organize a travel tour with Dutch journalists to South Carolina to get them acquainted with the geography, history and present offers of the state.
The Secretary for Agriculture, Mr. Hugh Weathers pointed out that SC was
originally a dairy state, but the dairy industry has moved more to lower
Michigan and California. There is a clear interest to welcome Dutch dairy
farmers settling in SC. Mr. Weathers pointed out that SC’s economy is based on
agricultural, forestry and food processing industry. Poultry started to play an
important role after the truck weight restrictions on the roads has changed.
Most poultry for export is frozen poultry which is a heavy weight commodity.
Timber is exported as a raw material or in a value-added product as utility
poles or paper and pulp.
Europe is getting an important market for energy crops and he is hoping for ships from the Port of Charleston to run more energy crops to Europe.
The conclusion of this visit is that there are still great unused potentials in SC and through the arrival of a Chapter of the NACCSE we hope to generate more business from the Netherlands in SC.