SAVANNAH, GA, July 23, 2012 (Press Release) -Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) Executive Director Curtis J. Foltz announced today that the GPA achieved record volumes in FY2012 for total tonnage, containers, and autos.
“Strong growth in breakbulk and auto cargoes complemented record volumes in total tonnage and container traffic,” Foltz said. “Georgia’s deepwater ports continued to attract additional cargo, and sustain and create jobs throughout this region.”
Breakbulk cargo saw 15.6 percent growth over FY2011, for an increase of 342,446 tons to 2.53 million. The ports boosted overall tonnage to 26.5 million for an increase of 561,038 tons. In autos and machinery, Colonel’s Island at the Port of Brunswick led the GPA to greater than 19 percent growth. Georgia Ports reached 569,984 roll-on/roll-off units moved across all terminals in FY2012.
“The GPA’s double-digit growth in Ro/Ro cargo emphasizes Georgia’s role as an important corridor in global trade,” said GPA Board Chairman Robert S. Jepson Jr. “Handling more than half a million units in a single year is clear evidence of the efficiency and reliability of service our customers enjoy.”
With the U.S. economy facing soft to stagnant recovery over the past 12 months, the Port of Savannah moved 2,982,467 TEUs, for an additional 55,221 TEUs, or 1.9 percent over FY2011.
Amid higher cargo numbers across an array of global markets, the Port of Savannah now hosts the most shipping services of any port on the East Coast, for a total of 40 weekly services. Total vessel calls reached 2,916 in FY2012, an increase of 2.2 percent over the last fiscal year. Another important milestone for the year came with the release of the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business study on the economic impact of the state’s ports. The study, conducted by Dr. Jeffrey M. Humphries, director of the Selig Center for Economic Growth, found the ports support more than 352,000 full- and part-time jobs across the state and $66.9 billion in sales.
Also in FY2012, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its final documentation for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP). Just last week, the President announced his intention to fast track SHEP approvals and secure final approval no later than November.
“To have the President of the United States acknowledge the importance of the Port of Savannah — its infrastructure improvement needs and the role it plays in the economic recovery of the Southeast — is significant,” Foltz said. “After 15 years of extensive research and study, the Corps found the port deepening project to be both environmentally and economically sound. For every dollar the federal government spends on the project, the nation will see 5.5 dollars in benefits via lowered costs to bring goods to market.”
In funding, the state committed another $46.7 million toward the deepening, for a total of $181.1 million in state bonds committed to SHEP.
With approvals from the Departments of the Army, Commerce and Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency, construction on the project is expected to be complete in 2016.
“This has been a momentous year, with the GPA realizing some critical steps toward a more promising economic future,” said Jepson. “I would like to thank the men and women of the GPA and the broader maritime community for helping to reach these important milestones.”
Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 352,000 jobs throughout the state annually and contribute $18.5 billion in income, $66.9 billion in revenue and $2.5 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.