Logistics Can Be Key to State Growth Copyright Stephen B. Morton, Georgia Port Authority
Por of Savannah

Logistics Can Be Key to State Growth

Georgia is responsible for providing an infrastructure that is expected to handle more than $900 billion of cargo annually.

eCommerce and the driving force behind it -- customers with high expectations-- continues to push the logistic sector into high growth. That was true in 2018 and continues to be true in 2019. One component of growth, as measured by the Intermodal Association of North American, is the increase of 5.6% of intermodal volumes in 2018. Some causes of the increase include tight trucking capacity as well as the uncertainty surrounding the tariff situation.

“Not only were gains substantial, but they were also broad-based,” the report said. “All markets recorded an increase of at least 4.9% or greater, and all regions saw traffic climb.”

This growth has resulted in the logistics industry adding more capabilities. One state, Georgia, which is responsible for providing an infrastructure that is expected to handle more than $900 billion of cargo annually, has been adding both capabilities and efficiencies into its port network.

As the state's infrastructure grows so too does the state's economy. In 2018 it hit a record $40. 5 billion in exports. The overall trade figures between Georgia and the world, which spanned 223 countries and territories, reached $139.3 billion in 2018.

Looking at the underpinning of those figures, last year the state moved a record number of containers. The Port of Savannah reached a pace of 4 million 20-foot-equivalent container units moving across docks. The port, which can accept megaships with a capacity of 14,000 TEU’s, is responsible for moving more than 16 % of the East Coast's overseas container cargo.

“Companies are looking to do business in states that are growing,” said Matt Markham, director of the Georgia Center of Innovation and Logistics (Center). “Our mission is to work with companies to find a way to solve any logistic issues they might have.”

The Center was formed when city officials realized that there wasn’t a clear picture of how the various components of the logistic communicated with each other.  “There wasn’t a lot of collaboration across the different modes of transportation,” says Markham. “Discussions on how to cross-pollinate opportunities across the supply chain weren’t happening.”

Through a strong partnership with industry to set a roadmap to tie all the modalities together, the Center was able to push the state to its national and international prominence. “We take our cues from the private sector,” Markham says. It’s where our day starts and ends.”

The Center now helps companies in three specific ways:

  • Improves inbound and outbound logistics or Georgia’s cargo-owning companies while decreasing logistics-related costs, by evaluating Georgia’s logistics options for shippers, connecting shippers to Georgia’s logistics providers, and informing businesses about logistics trends and data-driven projections.
  •  Supports Logistic Development for Georgia Companies by fostering collaboration between Georgia’s logistics employers and the State’s resources for training and education.
  •  Enhances Logistics Technology deployment by collaborating on emerging logistics technology solutions, supporting knowledge and experience transfer for Georgia shippers on current practices in logistics technology, and connecting shippers to Georgia companies that develop and/or provide the latest in proven logistics technology solutions.

Port Development

Continued development of the state’s ports is a top priority. To increase efficiencies in the transportation system, in August of 2018, the state opened the  Appalachian Region Port, a 42-acre rail terminal site near Chatsworth, Ga.  operated by the Georgia Ports Authority and served by CSX . It provides a direct, 388-mile route to Savannah’s Garden City Terminal. The facility opened with an annual capacity of 50,000 containers.

The inland port will serve as a distribution and intake point for businesses in north Georgia, northeast Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee and will help move cargo to and from the Savannah port, the second-busiest port on the Atlantic coast. The Appalachian port is part of the "Network Georgia" program designed to create inland terminals throughout the state to reduce intermodal truck traffic and provide greater rail capacity to the Southeast. 

Another inland port, located in Gainesville, is expected to open 2021. This port will serve the Interstate 85 region of Georgia, an important area for the production of heavy equipment, food and forest products. At full build-out, it will have the capacity to handle 150,000 containers per year.

These new ports will increase supply chain efficiency, which is a key strategy for the Center, and are expected to take 50,000 trucks and eight million truck miles off the roads each year.

This efficiency will support the already robust logistic environment which includes the fact that 80% of the U.S. markets are within either a two-hour flight or two-day truck drive. The state offers the most extensive rail system in the Southeast and 85% of the top 3PLs have offices in Georgia. Building on this strong foundation, the Center plans to continue on the road to success using its proven winning formula. “We have brought together the different aspects of logistics and just by knowing each other we are able to not only present opportunities to the various sectors but more importantly to collaborate on them.”

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