SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Georgia Ports Authority’s State of the Port Address was held virtually Thursday.
GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch and co-host GPA Board Chairman Will McKnight presented the first-ever virtual address. They spoke on the latest developments in infrastructure and global trade at the Port of Savannah. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp spoke as well.
We learned that COVID-19 has not wrecked this money driver for the State, but there were some challenges. Leaders shared a very optimistic and positive outlook in Thursday’s State of the Port address.
It was a positive outlook for the Port’s productivity and how it’s performed recently. But parts of the address did acknowledge some of the hurdles the economic driver had to overcome caused by the world-wide pandemic.
For the fiscal year 2020, Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch says the port took a hard hit in the fourth quarter because of COVID-19. But that’s already begun to rebound, and here’s why.
Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Pat Wilson, pointed out during the hardest months we weren’t in a true recession, in that there wasn’t a decline in need. Wilson pointed out the world in many ways just shut down. Now, he says businesses are starting to plan again for the future, and bringing more business to the port and surrounding area.
“Collectively, the first quarter of our fiscal year has actually been a record year over year. So that’s been great news, and we’ll have to see how the rest of the year...a lot of question marks for the rest of the year. There’s no guarantees, but right now we’re running very strong," said Lynch.
Because of that, GPA and surrounding economic leaders are looking at ways to develop the local workforce.
“So that’s why we have this question mark about workforce development. We want to make sure we stay ahead of that challenge. And that’s part of our mission. The Georgia Ports is an economic development engine, and that’s something that we’re measured by. We want to continue to create jobs in and around our communities," Lynch said.
Over the last fiscal year, even with the hardships caused by COVID, in Bryan, Effingham and here in Chatham County, companies have committed billions in industrial development, which translates to thousands of new jobs right here in our area.