A couple weeks ago we wrote about the operations at the Garden City Terminal at the Port of Savannah — one of seven ports (including two inland ports) operated by the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA). We were all pretty blown away by the scope of shipping and logistics operations, and the sheer numbers put up by the Port of Savannah
My logistics colleagues probably feel it more personally than I do since they actually deal with orders that come through the terminal, but as a former business and economic development writer, I was especially struck by the powerful economic engine the port represents.
By capitalizing on increased traffic that resulted from the strikes at West Coast ports in 2015, the Port of Savannah became the 4th busiest in North America. And I don’t mind telling you, as a Georgian, I take that as a point of pride. Check out this graphic and look at the phenomenal growth from 2005 to 2015:
So what does that mean in dollars? Well, the total statewide impact of the Georgia Ports Authority was $84.1 billion in sales (9.6 percent of Georgia's total sales). The ports accounted for $33.2 billion in state GDP (7.2 percent of Georgia's total GDP). And more than 369,000 Georgians are employed either full- or part-time thanks to the impact of the ports. The GPA has 1,100 employees, the majority at the Garden City Terminal. They are supported by 2,500 longshoreman. These numbers are bound to increase as larger and larger ships arrive through the expanded Panama Canal.
Larger ships mean larger cranes. The Garden City Terminal currently has 26 ship to shore cranes, the most of any port in the U.S. An additional four post-Panamex cranes, with a lift height of 152 feet, will arrive this year.
The Georgia Ports Authority invested heavily in infrastructure over the past ten years, to the tune of $1 billion. That figure will nearly double — to $1.87 billion — in the coming decade as the GPA invests in enhancing the port's shipping, rail and trucking capabilities. And after years of political foot-dragging the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) is well underway. SHEP will deepen the Savannah River to 47 feet at mean low water, allowing for the larger vessels that are now calling.
What does all this mean to you? Well, larger ships mean lower costs per container. GPA estimates businesses will see savings of $213 million a year. And this doesn't even take into account the tremendous efficiency already present in port operations. The Garden City Terminal will reach capacity in about 10 years, but the Jasper Ocean Terminal, a joint project with the State of South Carolina, is already being developed across the river. Economic developers know regional partnerships are the future and in the case of the Jasper Ocean Terminal, this one looks to be a significant win/win.
There is so much more to know about the Georgia Ports Authority; I've only scratched the surface. To learn more, visit the GPA website. Or give them a call. And tell them your friends at East West sent you.