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Walters named new GPA board chairman
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The Georgia Ports Authority board of directors elected James A. Walters of Gainesville to serve as chairman.

“Jim’s background in business and economic development make him a strong choice to lead the GPA,” said outgoing Chairman Robert Jepson. “His steady demeanor and strong vision for the future will help Georgia Ports continue on its mission to create new jobs and opportunity for Georgia.”

Appointed to the GPA board by Gov. Nathan Deal in 2012, Walters previously served as vice chairman. The new vice chairman will be James L. “Jimmy” Allgood, while A.J. “Joe” Hopkins III will serve as secretary/treasurer.

“This is an exciting time to serve as chairman of the GPA, a vital business asset for the state,” Walters said. “Important opportunities lie ahead in economic development and improving our maritime infrastructure.”

Walters noted that Georgia’s positive business environment has fueled a tide of recent announcements in manufacturing and logistics.

“The role of our deepwater ports — supporting trade while helping to lure new investment — will only be strengthened as the Savannah Harbor is expanded to better accommodate today’s larger vessels,” he said. “These more efficient ships will bring down the cost of exporting American-made goods, and bolster Savannah’s power to deliver jobs and development across the Southeast.”

“During my two years as chairman, our primary focus was seeing the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project through to final authorization,” Jepson said. “I am confident that with Jim’s leadership, we will quickly move forward with the construction and completion of this critical project.”

In other business, GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz reported on the authority’s May performance — the strongest month ever recorded in GPA’s 69-year history for the movement of containers and total tonnage.

“Georgia’s success bringing new manufacturers and distribution centers to the state, along with increased demand in the fast-growing Southeastern U.S., has fueled impressive growth at the Ports of Savannah and Brunswick,” Foltz said.

Twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) handled at Savannah’s container terminal rose by 11.1 percent or 28,916 TEUs compared to May 2013, for a total of 290,436 TEUs in the month just ended.

Meanwhile, breakbulk cargo saw a gain of 11 percent in May, growing by 26,483 tons to reach 266,734 tons. Brunswick’s dedicated auto and machinery port and Savannah’s Ocean Terminal combined to move 64,097 units — the third-highest total on record. GPA auto and machinery cargo improved by 7.2 percent or 4,289 units on the month.

Total tonnage for May was up 10.5 percent or 251,000 tons to reach 2.63 million tons, also a new GPA record for monthly volume.