RIDGEVILLE, S.C. (WCBD) – A opening ceremony is planned Friday for a new Walmart distribution center in Ridgeville. It’s a project that leaders in South Carolina say will be a key part of the Lowcountry’s port system.

The center, which is located at the Ridgeville Industrial Campus in Dorchester County, has hired nearly a thousand associates and has a goal to hire 1,300 additional full-time employees.

The direct import distribution center will use the Port of Charleston to supply regional distribution centers, supporting about 850 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores in the state and elsewhere.

Jeff Holzbauer, general manager for the Walmart Import Distribution Center, said the center has been operational since early January when it began receiving products.

“We started receiving product on January 3rd. We’ve received almost five million cases up until this point, just in three months. So, things are ramping up very quickly. Just a little over two weeks ago, on April 5th, we started shipping product,” said Holtzbauer.

For the South Carolina Ports, the center will increase cargo volumes at the Charleston terminals by 5%.

“We are providing a great benefit for the local community and even greater benefit for the customers who shop at Walmart to be able to make sure that they have the right products at the right time,” said Holtzbauer.

Governor Henry McMaster will be joined by the CEO of the South Carolina Ports Authority, Jim Newsome, and executives from Walmart for an opening celebration Friday morning.

During Friday’s grand opening ceremony, Walmart will present $10,000 to local non-profit, Going Places, which donates bicycles to children.