In a Savannah Morning News opinion piece, Casey Cagle, Georgia’s Lieutenant Governor pointed out that Georgia’s Ports “have harnessed their true potential to generate an engine of economic prosperity for our entire state.” He also noted that “Georgia’s geographic location gives us many strategic advantages…allowing Georgia to serve as the seaport gateway for 80 percent of the nation’s marketplace.”
He explained how “within two days of docking in Savannah, the goods from a vessel can reach over 80 percent of the United States.” As he noted “businesses can import raw materials and develop finished products all over Georgia. This creates jobs.”
From the 10 months (July 2016 to April 2017), Georgia’s seaports in Savannah and Brunswick were ahead of fiscal year 2015’s record-setting pace, according to Griff Lynch, the chief executive of the Georgia Ports Authority. At that juncture, he projected that the total amount of cargo through the two ports would outpace the almost 32 million tons (29 million metric tons) of imports and exports Georgia had in the fiscal year 2015. That was the busiest year yet for the two ports, but it was helped along by a short-term surge in business due to labor issue on the West Coast. This forced many shippers to reroute a lot of their cargo to ports on the East Coast, including Savannah and Brunswick. Lynch also thought the Port of Savannah would also break the record of 3.6 million container units from 2015 and that it would be a more sustainable, long-term trend.
“What we have going on here is just true, organic growth,” Lynch said during a recent meeting board meeting for the port authority. He attributed some of the growth to the expanded Panama Canal this summer. This has enabled larger ships with weightier loads to come to and move through the Savannah Ports. A more robust economy, evidenced by more imports and exports, has also spurred growth.
Cagle also believes the relationship with Panama and its President, Juan Carlos Varela, a Georgia Tech graduate is a “particularly significant” one for Georgia and the ports. Currently, 40% of the traffic that passes through the Panama Canal ends up at the Port of Savannah. This is likely to increase when the harbor is dredged.
From July 2016 to April 2017 (fiscal year 2017) the Savannah and Brunswick ports handled 7.5 percent more total cargo tonnage than they did during the same period last year.
Lisa Yannett, V.P. Horizon Staffing