Executive director says Savannah is being redefined as “the port of choice for major inland markets east of the Mississippi River.”
“We’re preparing to redefine the Port of Savannah as not simply the load center for the Southeastern U.S. but as the port of choice for major inland markets east of the Mississippi River,” Lynch said.
Other projects include the Mason Mega Rail facility, which will double the Port of Savannah’s rail capacity to 1 million lifts per year by 2020; new equipment purchases including eight additional ship-to-shore cranes and 64 additional rubber-tired gantry cranes; gate and container storage expansions, berth improvements; and off terminal road additions.
GPA Board Chairman Jimmy Allgood said that since Gov. Nathan Deal took office in 2011, the Port of Savannah has grown by 45 percent or an additional 1.2 million TEUs; the harbor deepening project has been approved and is now 50 percent complete; and state transportation improvements like the Jimmy Deloach Parkway ensure that cargo moves more efficiently and without delay.
In the past year, GPA handled a record 4.2 million TEUS, an 8.4 percent increase — or 325,000 additional units. Intermodal rail lifts climbed to 435,000, an increase of 16.1 percent or more than 60,000 additional moves, another GPA record.
During his speech, Lynch thanked state and local economic development authorities for helping land 29 port-related projects in fiscal year 2018, bringing more than $1 billion in investment and 4,741 jobs to Georgia.
Work on the Savannah Harbor expansion project is expected to be finished in late 2021. A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study estimates the deepening’s net benefit in transportation savings for shippers and consumers at $282 million per year. The expected total savings to the nation over the course of 50 years is $14.1 billion, according to GPA.
As deeper water allows larger vessels to call on the Port of Savannah, the GPA, along with its state partners, will be examining future infrastructure requirements, including air draft capacity of the Talmadge Bridge. Although no such vessels currently call on the U.S. East Coast, the port could handle some vessels up to 19,000-TEU capacity, GPA said.
Lynch also unveiled GPA’s new workforce development initiative, the Youth learning Equipment and Safety program, or YES, created to hire and train high school graduates for careers in the port industry. The new hires will shadow experienced workers and learn forklift, truck and container equipment operations. The first six employees hired through the program were referred to GPA by school administrators after taking classes and expressing interest in a logistics career.
“Through our YES program, we are hiring promising young people who are ready to get to work,” Lynch said. “In today’s market, we have to do more than search for qualified applicants. We have to be willing to train the workers we need. Maintaining a well-qualified workforce is critical to remaining competitive.”
A summary of Lynch’s presentation is available here.