Like never before, Georgia's ports are linking the Peach State to commerce centers around the world. Georgia Ports Authority's business year wrapped up at the end of June, and the report card is impressive.
While overall tonnage at Savannah and Brunswick was up more than five percent, the ports' bread and butter--containerized cargo--was up 11.3 percent. After almost a 20 percent increase last year, that's 30 percent in just two years, ranking Georgia's ports seventh nationally, with by far the highest rate of growth on the east coast.
"What that means is not only more tonnage through here, but more jobs. It means more people going to work as a result of the port," Doug Marchand, GPA's executive director, told us.
International Longshoremen's Association Local 1414 president Bennie Bryan recalls something a former ILA president told him years ago. "He said, that's your future out there, and we were looking at the container market. We had no idea that the port of Savannah would grow into the capacity that it's in now."
Capacity does indeed translate to jobs--80,000 in Georgia directly and indirectly related to the ports. There is also $1.8 billion in personal income, and $585 million in state and local taxes.
Marchand and Bryan both point to cooperation within the local port community as key.
"Our thing is to meet the goal," said Bryan. "We have to understand that in the Port of Savannah, we have a theme which is called 'Partnership for Progress.' What does that mean? That we work together as a team to make a difference. That's what it's all about."
The GPA's executive director says it takes partnership, investment, and careful planning.
"Fortunately, we've had good backing by our authority who we work for as well as the leadership in the general assembly and the governor's office," Marchand stated. "There's no doubt in my mind that we have the facilities in a position to keep that growth going."
Again, every category of cargo was up: lots of cars coming into Brunswick, along with grain both coming and going. And of course, in Savannah, containers and more.
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