Gov. Nathan Deal, Curtis Foltz, GPA’s Executive Director, Panama Canal Authority Administrator Alberto Alemán Zubieta and business leaders gathered Wednesday for a panel discussion in Savannah. The leaders spoke about the ports’ impact on jobs and commerce, their importance to the Southeast’s economic future and the need to deepen the Port of Savannah.
“The Port of Savannah plays an integral role in attracting new locations and the expansion of existing companies in Georgia,” said Gov. Deal. “This region serves as a focal point of Georgia’s highly efficient logistics system, providing companies with global access to their customers in markets around the world.”
An expansion of the Panama Canal, due for completion in 2014, will significantly lower the cost per container compared to current Panamax vessels. Delivering decreased cost per container will help lower the bottom line for the 21,000 U.S. businesses that import or export cargo through Georgia’s ports.
“Considering the importance of the Port of Savannah and its Savannah Harbor Expansion Project in the logistics chain and in the ‘All-Water Route,’ we look forward to seeing their infrastructure project completed and continuing our partnership,” said ACP Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta.
The GPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are working to deepen the river from its current 42-foot depth to as much as 48 feet in order to more efficiently handle the larger vessels.
Georgia has already committed $134 million to the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. Gov. Deal has proposed another $46.7 million in his FY2013 budget.
“Preparing for the future, even in uncertain times, is the best formula for success, and our partners here today also clearly understand this,” Foltz said. “Our plans to accommodate future growth will ensure that the state of Georgia and its deepwater ports are prepared to advance economic development and opportunity.”
“Deepening the Port of Savannah — one of the most important and productive civil works projects in the country — will maintain and create jobs and commerce throughout the nation, while significantly reducing transportation costs for U.S. shippers,” said GPA’s Chairman of the Board Alec L. Poitevint. “As the Southeast’s gateway to the world, our harbor must be able to accommodate these vessels without tidal restrictions in order to efficiently serve global commercial demands.”