Georgia’s ports are on a roll, and the Georgia Ports Authority has drawn up a $1.4 billion plan to expand port facilities over the next decade in order to cement Georgia ports as the primary ones to serve the entire Southeast U.S., the authority’s executive director, Curtis Foltz, said Thursday.
Most days at the port of Savannah, about 20 trains arrive to drop a load of goods for export, reload with imports, and depart a few hours later. The state plans to grow this business with a network of transport hubs in five surrounding states.
When Curtis Foltz looks to the future, the head of the Georgia Ports Authority sees a day when ports around the nation won’t be able handle the demand for moving freight.
“Generally speaking, our ports are falling way behind in terms of modernizing, capacity, velocity, and utilizing capital,” said Foltz, GPA’s executive director since 2010 and head of the nation’s fourth largest, and fastest growing, container port.
Georgia’s ambition for the Port of Savannah to smother its competitors is evident in the latest initiative – calling on the private sector to nearly double the amount of warehouse space near Savannah.
This additional warehouse space is part of a double-barreled approach to grow cargo capacity. The other aspect is a planned network of inland ports that would rival in size the Louisiana Purchase.
These expansion plans are founded on the deepening of the Savannah shipping channel to accommodate huge vessels. On Monday, the ports authority announced that a necessary contract with the federal government is to be signed within two weeks. Construction is likely to begin in early 2015.
Toyota announced Tuesday a deal that underscores the growing role of Georgia’s ports in the global supply chain.
Toyota will use the state port in Brunswick to ship its midsize crossover SUV to Russia and Ukraine. The vehicles are assembled in Georgetown, Ky.
Toyota is a new client for the ports authority and it joins Caterpillar in shipping machines through the port. Last year, Caterpillar cited the Brunswick port in its decision to build near Athens a manufacturing plant that is to serve markets in Europe and Latin America.