Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director, Curtis Foltz addressed more than 1,300 attendees during the 2014 State of the Port address, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014, in Savannah, Ga. and reported 1,900 new jobs and 2.7 million square feet of industrial expansion tied to a year of strong growth at the GPA.
“Record growth at our ports, coupled with strong statewide pro-business leadership clearly played a pivotal role in landing these new companies and related jobs, including developments by Bed, Bath & Beyond, Pactra and Trident Seafood,” Foltz said. “This strong performance not only aided the addition of 1,900 new port-related jobs, but created additional positions throughout the transportation and logistics chain as well as supporting more than 350,000 jobs across the state.”
Foltz also detailed progress toward deepening the Savannah Harbor, including $266 million in construction dollars set aside by Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia General Assembly; the signing of the Water Resources Reform & Development Act, which gave final federal authorization; and the imminent signing of the federal-state cost sharing agreement, which will allow construction to start in the coming weeks.
“Improving the Savannah Harbor is vitally important to the continued economic health of this state and region,” Deal said. “By accommodating larger, more efficient vessels, the deepening will reduce shipping costs for American businesses by $213 million a year.”
GPA Board Chairman James Walters added that the port deepening will further empower Georgia’s deepwater ports to stimulate growth.
Before an audience of 1,300, Foltz also discussed how the Port of Savannah is making infrastructure improvements to more than double its current throughput within 10 years and accommodate more than 6.5 million TEUs per year on the existing terminal footprint.
Long-term plans call for increasing the number of ship-to-shore cranes from 22 to 30 and rubber-tired gantry cranes from 116 to 169. Meanwhile, the state Department of Transportation will complete the Jimmy Deloach Parkway Extension in the summer of 2016 to provide a one-of-a-kind cargo beltway connecting the Port of Savannah with Interstates 95 and 16.
The State of the Port program included a video in which port-related workers and even a cotton farmer detailed the benefits of the harbor deepening.
In FY2014, the GPA handled record total tonnage and container traffic, moving 29.4 million tons of cargo (up 8 percent) and 3.14 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs), up by 6.3 percent compared to the previous year.
The GPA moved 700,702 units of autos and machinery – an increase of 10 percent. Breakbulk cargo saw a gain of 5.2 percent, to reach 2.63 million tons. Meanwhile, bulk cargo expanded by 8.4 percent, to reach 2.73 million tons.
Press Release, September 26, 2014