Doug J. Marchand, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA), outlined actions required to achieve continued growth and prosperity for the Port of Savannah during his annual State of the Port speech.
“While current economic challenges demand consideration, this is not a time to retreat from the planning and construction that has driven so much of our prosperity,” said Marchand. “This is precisely the time to aggressively secure additional capacity and, in so doing, become the driver of economic recovery and future growth.”
Savannah has emerged as the fastest growing and fourth largest container port in the United States by having the best workforce, unsurpassed infrastructure, room to grow and a sound marketing plan to capitalize on its strengths, said Marchand. “The economy may be struggling today, but no one has taken away the strategic advantages that have been the foundation of our success,” he continued.
During Fiscal Year 2008 several key elements of GPA’s strategic plan were realized.
Four new super post-Panamax cranes were placed into operation and four more are being fabricated for delivery in early 2009. The GPA also brought 14 new rubber-tired gantry cranes online.
Phase One re-construction of Container Berth Two was completed in July and 14 new refrigerated container racks were placed in to operation.
Engineering and design of the new container interchange Gate Eight began.
Construction on the new Chatham Yard ICTF is nearing completion and the further expansion of the James D. Mason ICTF was completed.
The future of the Port of Savannah is even brighter than its historical success, said Marchand. Equipment and infrastructure improvements, aggressive sales and marketing tools, improved road and rail connectivity, expanded warehousing and distribution inventories will all offer a firm foundation for the future prosperity of the region.
However, the single most important factor for the Port of Savannah’s future success remains the completion of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. Without a 48-foot channel depth to Garden City Terminal, the larger ships that will demand to call this port in the near future will not be able to trade here, warned Marchand.
During fiscal year 2008 GPA handled more than 2.6 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), a 14.9% increase. The GPA’s total tonnage for all terminal facilities, including Bainbridge, Brunswick, Columbus and Savannah surpassed 25 million tons, a 17.5% increase.
Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 286,476 jobs throughout the state annually and contribute $14.9 billion in income, $55.8 billion in revenue and $2.8 billion in taxes to Georgia’s economy, according to the port authority's estimates.