CHARLESTON – The South Carolina Ports Authority has recognized 25 delegates for completing the 2018-19 Port Ambassador Program, which provides participants an understanding of the connection between the Port of Charleston and South Carolina’s business community.
The 10-month Port Ambassador Program immerses participants in port operations through educational sessions and tours of oceanside terminals, inland ports, cruise vessels and manufacturing operations around the state, showing firsthand the port’s $53 billion annual economic impact on the state.
The program also shows ambassadors how the maritime, transportation, port and manufacturing sectors intersect and spur economic development in South Carolina.
The ambassadors celebrated their graduation June 6 aboard the new home-ported Carnival Sunshine in Charleston Harbor.
South Carolina State University head football coach Buddy Pough is among the class of 25.
“This program introduced us to the bigger picture, which is that one in 11 jobs in South Carolina is tied to the Port,” Port Ambassador Tiffany Santagati said.
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Santagati, executive senior vice president of talent and culture at Southern First Bank in Greenville, said the ambassadors program gave her insight into the port’s statewide operations, emphasizing how many S.C. industries depend on the Port of Charleston to thrive.
“I have lived in South Carolina my entire life, and until I participated in the Port Ambassador Program, I did not fully understand the impact the port makes on employment and the movement of goods throughout the state,” Santagati said. “It was fascinating to see how it is all connected.”
Port Ambassador Alex Fournil, owner and principal of Vista Insurance Group in Columbia, said the group’s visit to BMW Manufacturing Co. and Inland Port Greer stands out as an example of the Port of Charleston’s role in moving goods throughout the state to global markets.
“Hearing directly from BMW how important it is to have Inland Port Greer and how it gives them a competitive advantage was really amazing,” Fournil said.
SCPA launched the Port Ambassador Program in 2016 to increase public awareness and understanding of SCPA’s strategic plan and foster support for the Port’s key statewide activities.
Participants are selected from nominations by the Review and Oversight Commission on the State Ports Authority, the SCPA Board of Directors and Senior Management Team. Each program is limited to 25 ambassadors.