Investing for now and future

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With sustained rate of growth recorded in cargo volume handled at Georgia Ports Authority owned and managed deep water ports in Savannah and Brunswick the port authority is committing more investment to handle expanding cargo volumes now and in the future. Reji John...

For the year 2014, the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) posted outstanding performance lifting containerized trade (+6.3 percent), auto and machinery units (+10 percent), break bulk (+5.2 percent) and bulk cargo (+8.4 percent). Total tonnage expanded by eight percent to reach 29.4 million tonnes. “Georgia’s cargo growth illustrates the powerful impact our ports have on the state and region. New company announcements or expansions added 1,950 port-related jobs and 2.7 million square feet of industrial space in Georgia. In addition to helping land new businesses, record growth at GPA boosted employment throughout the transportation and logistics chain,” said Curtis Foltz, executive director, GPA, in the annual report. A busy December in 2014 helped to lift the Port of Savannah to 3.34 million TEUs for the year, an increase of 312,037 TEUs over 2013. The Port of Brunswick continued its dominant performance in auto and machinery trade, moving 688,575 units for the year. Combined with roll-on/roll-off trade through the Port of Savannah’s Ocean Terminal, GPA moved 716,055 units in 2014, an 8.6 percent (57,190-unit) increase on the year. The Port of Savannah has moved 2.66 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEU) during the fiscal year through March. The Georgia Ports Authority increased containerized cargo in March by 27.8 percent compared to the same month a year ago, for an additional 72,499 TEU units. For the first time ever, the Port of Savannah moved 333,058 TEUs in a single month, surpassing its previous monthly record set in October 2014 by more than 21,000 TEUs. "We are moving record volumes while maintaining excellent service levels for our customers," said Foltz. "Our March numbers have once again demonstrated the scale, flexibility and efficiency of the Garden City Terminal. Freight handling remained fluid, even with demand well above forecasts." A 28 percent increase in container volume is also the demonstration of the level of trust cargo owners have in GPA’s efficient ports. "The ability to quickly move cargo to and from important inland markets via superior road and rail connections is a key reason Georgia is ranked the number one state for business,” said GPA Board Chairman, James Walters. In a press statement Foltz said that the GPA is taking steps to increase capacity at Garden City Terminal, including construction of a new truck gate and the purchase of 30 rubber-tired gantry (RTG) cranes, which will bring the total number to 146 RTGs. GPA has begun the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP), which is currently in the construction phase. The project is to deepen the shipping channel from 42 to 47 feet at mean low water. This will allow today’s larger, more efficient vessels to transit the channel with heavier loads and greater scheduling flexibility. The project, when completed, will create economic opportunity not only across Georgia, but throughout the Southeast. According to GPA, businesses and consumers across the nation are projected to save $174 million a year through increased transportation efficiency. Each dollar invested in the SHEP will return $5.50 to the economy. Making specific reference to the opportunities that exist for the local population Jamie McCurry, senior director of administration and governmental affairs for the Georgia Ports Authority, said, growth and success for the ports of Brunswick and Savannah will have a positive economic impact on Henry County. “Our job distribution is not centered on the coast but rather the metro Atlanta area. We try to show just how relevant Georgia’s ports are to local economies and in Henry County, there are about 4,400 jobs directly related to business in the ports of Brunswick and Savannah,” he added. In order to maintain excellent service levels, the GPA board recently approved $141.8 million in capital improvements with passage of its budget for the fiscal year 2016. The long term goal of GPA is to maintain capacity at least 20 percent above demand through timely infrastructure investments. These funding commitments are signs of GPA’s preparedness to handle expanding cargo volumes both now and in the future. The GPA is investing in four new ship-to-shore cranes and other infrastructure improvements to handle growing cargo volumes. “Across the logistics industry, focus has centered on GPA’s ability to handle large volume increases with no congestion. Georgia has built world-class port facilities, and our customers appreciate service reliability for current and future volumes,” said Foltz.

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