Port Wentworth hires first director of economic development as city continues to grow

Published: Apr. 20, 2023 at 5:54 PM EDT
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PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. (WTOC) - Officials cut the ribbon on a $78 million produce processing facility in Port Wentworth Thursday.

The opening is the latest in a string of economic announcements there.

As Port Wentworth welcomes its newest industrial business, the city is hiring new leadership aiming to manage future investments.

“We want to have good, long-term, quality growth, planned development, that businesses then will look at and say this is why we want to invest in this community,” said Touchton.

James Touchton has been tapped as Port Wentworth’s first director of economic development.

He comes at a time of growth for the city with thousands of housing units expected in the coming years.

“3,000 in the next three years and then 5,000 in five years, already permitted from start to finish, we’re looking at five years.”

Port Wentworth is no stranger to growth and the business boom that comes with it.

Last year, the city put a pause on industrial rezoning applications so officials could rewrite the zoning ordinance.

In recent months, longtime residents say they feel pushed out by industrial building...a concern that Port Wentworth’s city manager says officials take into consideration..

“The biggest challenge that we have is dealing with the traffic. We’ve got multiple state highways that run through Port Wentworth. So, it’s making sure we can accommodate all of the increased traffic in that,” said Port Wentworth City Manager Steve Davis.

Still, Touchton is optimistic saying he looks forward to bringing together the city’s businesses and residents.

“I’m a big believer in respecting the past and embracing the future. So I think there’s a way to blend that. It doesn’t exist without partnerships. It doesn’t exist if we operate in those silos.”

It’s been a busy first few weeks for Touchton.

Of course, the Ghost Pirates announced a new practice facility in Port Wentworth this week.

Among his priorities, Touchton said he wants to help bring more entertainment and public transportation to the city.