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Georgia Ports Authority names new leader, who will serve as harbor is deepened

Dock workers in Savannah use radios to manage that handling of hundreds of thousands of containers every month. File/Credit: Georgia Ports Authority

By David Pendered

The board that oversees the Georgia Ports Authority on Wednesday announced the appointment of a new executive director, just a week after announcing that 2015 was the ports’ busiest year ever.

Dock workers in Savannah handled more than 333,000 containers in March. Credit: File/GPA

Dock workers in Savannah handled more than 333,000 containers in March. Credit: File/GPA

GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz is stepping down after six years in the job and a total of 12 years at GPA. Foltz intends to continue working as a consultant for the next 10 to 15 years. He’ll serve the GPA as a consultant for one year, according to GPA.

Foltz is to be succeeded by Griff Lynch. Lynch joined GPA in 2011 as chief operating officer. Until that time, Lynch was serving as vice president at the Bayonne, N.J. terminal, where he managed design and implementation of the port’s expansion.

Foltz’s legacy includes the start of the Savannah Harbor Deepening Project. The effort involves a host of federal and state agencies, and funding, in the effort to deepen the harbor so Savannah can handle the large cargo ships that are to ply the seas after the expanded Panama Canal opens to traffic this year.

Foltz championed the Network Georgia program. This series of inland ports spans the southeast United States and aims to funnel goods to and from the Savannah port.

Foltz also has called for a more coordinated approach in the United States to move freight at ports and within the country. A lack of infrastructure is impeding the nation’s capacity to benefit from the rising amount of global commerce, he said in an April 2, 2015 conversation with saportareport.com. In a story that appeared April 4, 2015, Foltz said:

Curtis Foltz

Curtis Foltz

  • “We don’t have a federal system to promote and prioritize freight corridors. I’m not here to say we want more federal regulation. I am saying, as a nation, we are falling behind. Absent a central body, the nation’s going to fall short of keeping pace with our international competitors.
  • “There are ports that need to be deepened, to have better water access; bridges that need to be raised or removed so modern, efficient ships can access ports; ports that don’t have the great road and rail connectivity we have in Georgia, which means the freight can get off the ship, but not to the customer.”

GPA board Chairman Jim Walters was effusive in his praise of Foltz’ service to the authority and state:

  • “Curtis Foltz has led the GPA to achieve great things over the past six years as executive director, and the six years prior as chief operating officer. In addition to record cargo growth, GPA, under Curtis’ leadership, modernized its terminals and developed operational practices that increased efficiency, improved safety and focused on environmental stewardship. The board is grateful for the many contributions he made to the Authority during his distinguished career as executive director and as chief operating officer.”
Griff Lynch

Griff Lynch

Foltz was equally effusive in his remarks. Foltz cited the state leadership, Gov. Nathan Deal and the Legislature. Foltz included GPA’s 1,200 employees and the International Association of Longshoremen. Foltz has a history of recognizing the longshoremen.

At the 2015 State of the Ports event, Foltz interrupted his own speech to recognize the presence of Willie Seymore, a Savannah longshoreman elected EVP of the South Atlantic and Gulf Coast District of the ILA. Collectively, the GPA and ILA averted a strike in 2013.

“There is simply no better team anywhere in the maritime community than here at the GPA,” Foltz said.

Foltz continued to commend Lynch.

“Griff is the right choice to lead this great organization to new heights,” Foltz said.

The support continues that which Foltz expressed in a report in a trade publication when Lynch came aboard in 2011:

  • “Griff has an excellent record of achievement and advancement in his career. His experience managing complex world-class operations and best practices in the international shipping industry will bring value to the GPA.”


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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