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Port of Savannah a major driver of Georgia economy
burns jon 2015
Rep. Jon Burns


The state of Georgia continues to lead the nation in creating a supportive environment for businesses, attracting businesses from across the nation and around the world. One of our state’s greatest assets is very close to District 159 - the Port of Savannah.

The Georgia Ports Authority and the Port of Savannah

The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) manages the Port of Savannah. As the Port has continued to expand, vessel sizes served by the Port have continued to grow larger. The GPA has prioritized quick movement of cargo of all types, continuously improving the Port to prepare for future demand. 

In Fiscal Year 2020, the Port of Savannah handled 11.2% of the United States’s container exports and 9.7% of the total container cargo volume for the nation! Approximately 66% of containers passing through the Port are imports that will head to American companies and consumers, much of which is for the upcoming holiday season. Georgia also has two inland ports and a third inland port that is in the construction process. Georgia’s inland ports are served by rail lines and facilitate the transfer of goods across the nation. 

The impact of our deepwater ports on our state’s economy is massive - in Fiscal Year 2019, that impact was 8% of Georgia’s total GDP; 6% of Georgia’s total personal income; 10% of Georgia’s total employment; and over $3 billion in state and local taxes. 

The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project

Over several years, the legislature has approved $335 million in bonds to encourage the appropriation of federal funds for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP). From 2015 through 2021, the federal government has invested over 400 million dollars in the Port. SHEP is slated to be completed by December of this year and will allow ships with much greater capacity in the Port. Before SHEP, the Savannah River was 42 feet deep in the Port, but SHEP will deepen the channel to 47 feet, allowing much larger vessels to make their way through the channel. Once the harbor is fully deepened, the harbor will be 54 feet deep at high tide, allowing vessels to move heavier loads through the Port without worrying about tidal restrictions.

Growth at the Port of Savannah

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the GPA grew at an average annual rate of 6.2%. Over the past year, however, the GPA’s annual growth rate was an impressive 20%! In response to this unprecedented growth, the GPA has approved the purchase of 22 acres of additional land and begun to develop another 18 acres of land; both parcels of land are adjacent to property currently owned by the GPA. Combined with projects currently under construction, these additional parcels will add 230 acres of container handling space to be fully completed in 2023.

In August of 2021, the Port of Savannah had its second busiest month in GPA’s history, topped only by March of 2021. This August, the Port of Savannah handled 485,595 twenty-feet equivalent units (TEUs), meaning the Port of Savannah processed the amount of cargo you would find in 485,595 twenty-feet containers!

As our ports continue to expand, hiring new employees and increasing efficiency, the Georgia House Republican Caucus will continue supporting them by funding infrastructure improvements throughout our state and at the ports. 

As always, if you have any feedback, do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), email, or engage on Facebook. If you would like to receive email updates, please visit my website to sign up for my newsletter or email me.

Jon Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly, where he serves as the House majority leader.