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Ports call on Atlanta business leaders
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The Georgia Ports Authority, in partnership with the Georgia World Congress Center, the Supply Chain Leadership Council of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Regional Business Coalition, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, and GeorgiaForward hosted a panel discussion regarding the impact of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP). 
The event brought more than 350 members of metro Atlanta’s business, economic development and logistics industries.
“Georgia’s business leaders agree that it is imperative for us to make every effort to keep pace with the growing demands of global commerce,” said GPA Executive Director Curtis J. Foltz. “Our state’s deepwater ports connect Georgia’s economy to the markets of world, generating growth and opportunities for the entire state.”
As the fastest-growing and fourth-largest container port in the nation, the Port of Savannah is responsible for moving 8.3 percent of the U.S. containerized cargo volume and more than 18 percent of all East Coast container trade in FY2010 (July 1, 2009-June 30, 2010). 
The Port of Savannah, which boasts a balanced export-import ratio, handled 12 percent of all U.S. containerized exports — a total of 1.14 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units).
In preparation for the Panama Canal Expansion in 2014, the GPA has embarked on an aggressive expansion and modernization plan to more efficiently accommodate newer, larger vessels that are already calling on the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts. These vessels such as the CMA CGM Figaro, which called on Savannah in August, offer more capacity and lower cost per container compared to current Panamax vessels. 
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 larger vessels.
The SHEP is one of the most important and productive civil works projects in the country, and will maintain and create jobs and commerce throughout the region, according to the GPA.
“Georgia’s ports are a vital economic engine,” said GPA Board Chairman Alec Poitevint. “The interests represented here today have sent a strong message — that the deepening of the Savannah Harbor is essential to the health of our state’s economy.”
The SHEP is widely supported by Georgia’s state leadership, which has appropriated $105 million of construction funds to date. Almost $40 million has been spent on environmental and other work associated with the SHEP, helping to ensure that all of the impacts associated with the project will be avoided, reduced or mitigated.
“As this project moves forward, the GPA encourages business leaders throughout the Southeast to actively support the SHEP,” Foltz said. “The completion of this project of national significance will be of great benefit to us all.”