Doug J. Marchand
, Executive Director of the Georgia Ports Authority
(GPA), gave the annual State of the Ports address today. "The State of the Port of Savannah has never been better!" Marchand proclaimed to more than 300 of Georgia's top maritime, business and community leaders. "We finished the year with more than 1.5 million TEUs and experienced an amazing 31.5 percent container growth. In just three years, container growth at the Port of Savannah has increased by 56 percent."
In his speech, Marchand outlined GPA's accomplishments and port expansions as well as ways that the Port of Savannah has helped create new jobs in a difficult economy.
"I believe the success of the Port of Savannah will continue to be a catalyst for future economic recovery in Georgia," Marchand said. "New containers mean new jobs for Georgians."
During Fiscal Year 2003 (July 2002 – June 2003), GPA attracted 10 additional carrier services giving shippers more choices, better frequency and assurance of competitive rates. The Port of Savannah was also responsible for helping to locate two new distribution centers that opened in FY03.
Pier 1 Imports opened a new, 780,000 square foot distribution center in Savannah, which represents a $30 million investment and employs more than 150 Georgians. Also this past fiscal year, Hugo Boss opened a 165,000 square foot distribution center in Liberty County, which represents a $15 million investment and employs more than 125 Georgians. And today, 12 major distribution centers moving more than 300,000 containers annually are located near the Port of Savannah.
Marchand also pointed to the recent opening of a 40,000 ft., on-dock cold storage facility at the Port of Savannah. As a result, Savannah Portside Refrigeration, Inc. is expected to import 12 million pounds of beef this year and hundreds of Georgians will be employed processing that product.
"We're in a much stronger position than most of our competition because we have not only attracted new business, but we have kept our facilities ahead of the growth curve," said Marchand.
In FY03, GPA continued work on creating additional container space on existing acreage, adding more than 100 new employees, extending gate hours, and purchasing new equipment including two Super Post-Panamax cranes, six top-lift container handlers and six new rubber tired gantry cranes. Gate improvements completed during FY03 included the installation of automated scales, construction of pre-check pedestals, communications and security systems from the truck lanes to a processing center, and an internal help center for truckers.
In recent weeks, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue announced a $110 million expansion project that will expand capacity by 20 percent and create 10,800 direct and indirect port related jobs.
"All of these projects greatly speed the delivery of cargo to and from the terminals as well as improving customer service and security," Marchand said.