Atlanta State of the Port: 1,500 new port-related jobs and $295 million in investment created
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Georgia Ports Authority Executive
Director Curtis Foltz gathered Tuesday, October 25, for a panel discussion at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s third annual State of the Port event in Atlanta. The three leaders spoke about the ports’ impact on jobs and commerce, their importance to the Southeast’s economic future and the need to deepen the Port of Savannah
In FY2011 alone, more than 1,500 new port-related jobs and $295 million in investment were created in the Atlanta region, according to new figures released today by the Georgia Department of Economic Development. (See jobs chart)
“Elected officials from both sides of the aisle and business leaders from all corners of the state understand the significance the ports have as an economic engine,” Gov. Deal said. “The need to maintain the Port of Savannah as a viable, efficient point of entry for international shipping cannot be overstated.”
"Deepening of the Savannah port helps to secure Georgia’s economic future as the capital of the southeast by creating jobs and positioning the state to become the logistics hub of the Western hemisphere,” Reed said. “This project is consistent with President Barack Obama’s focus on improving the nation’s infrastructure and increasing our export capability.”
Over the past 10 years, the Port of Savannah has ranked as the fastest growing container port in the nation, and is now Number 2 in the U.S. for the export of containerized cargo by tonnage.
"The single-most important factor to ensuring future success, creating jobs and maintaining the fastest-growing port in the nation, remains the completion of the Savannah harbor expansion project," Foltz said.
An expansion of the Panama Canal, due for completion in 2014, will significantly lower the cost per container compared to current Panamax vessels. Delivering decreased cost per container will help lower the bottom line for the 21,000 U.S. businesses that already import or export cargo through Georgia’s ports.
“Ships such as the 8,500-TEU CMA CGM Figaro are already calling on Savannah via the Suez Canal, but they must wait on high tide to enter or exit the harbor,” Foltz said. “With nearly three quarters of the U.S. population served by East Coast ports, it is critical that our infrastructure is ready for these vessels.”
The GPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are working to deepen the river from its current 42-foot depth to as much as 48 feet in order to more efficiently handle the larger vessels.
More than $9.5 billion worth of cargo was shipped through the Port of Savannah on behalf of businesses in Metro Atlanta counties, a growth rate of 18 percent over the previous fiscal year.
The top six counties in the Atlanta region by cargo value include:
“Numbers like these highlight the role the ports play in the global aspirations of businesses across Georgia,” said Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, and moderator of the forum. “It has never been more important to ensure the ports receive the assistance they need to continue fueling our economy.”
Georgia has already committed $134 million to the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. Gov. Deal has proposed another $46.7 million in his FY2013 budget.
“The national impact of Georgia’s seaports and the jobs they produce are substantial arguments for federal investment in the port deepening,” said GPA Board Chairman Alec Poitevint. “It’s time for our nation’s leaders to truly make supporting U.S. exports a fiscal priority.”
Company Name Investment Jobs
Maxzone Auto Parts Corporation $10,000,000 15
Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation $54,900,000 158
Exel, Inc. $1,200,000 50
Jaipur Rugs Inc. $2,300,000 10
Electrolux RDC $1,000,000 50
Exel, Inc. $500,000 25
Lowe's $125,000,000 600
King's Hawaiian $45,000,000 126
FedEx $55,000,000 450
Solo Cup $1,000,000 23
TOTALS: $295,900,000 1,507
Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 295,000 jobs throughout the state annually and contribute $15.5 billion in income, $61.7 billion in revenue and $2.6 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy. The Port of Savannah was the second busiest U.S. container port for the export of American goods by tonnage in FY2011. It also handled 8.7 percent of the U.S. containerized cargo volume and 12.5 percent of all U.S. containerized exports in FY2011.