Signs of an improving economy

Coweta area industries ship in/out of Savannah

by W. Winston Skinner

The Georgia Ports Authority is reporting growth in tonnage as many experts see the economy in Coweta County and across the United States gradually emerging from a slump.

The ports in Savannah and Brunswick are vital to Coweta County’s economy. Many Coweta-area companies sell or process materials that come into Georgia from the ports, and other Coweta firms ship their wares around the world from one of the coastal cities.

GPA opened calendar year 2014 with a strong January, achieving gains of 12.5 percent in 20-foot equivalent container units — TEUs — and 7.3 percent in overall tonnage, compared to January 2013.

"We are encouraged by the strong growth in January that continued a trend that began during the fourth quarter and are hopeful these volumes signal a strengthening U.S. and global economy," said Curtis Foltz, GPA’s executive director.

The Port of Savannah moved 259,159 TEUs, up from 230,372 over the same period a year ago. Freight moved across all terminals totaled 2.45 million tons, an increase of 7.3 percent or 166,544 tons compared to the same month in 2013. GPA officials anticipate such growth to continue.

In Brunswick, Colonel’s Island Terminal led GPA terminals to a 6.1 percent increase in automobile and heavy equipment units moved during the fiscal year to date. Including Savannah’s Ocean Terminal, the GPA moved 386,070 units of roll-on/roll-off cargo, up by 22,044 units. Brunswick handled most of those moves, at 372,146 units from July through January.

For the first six months of Fiscal Year 2014, GPA logged an 8 percent growth in total tonnage. “Strong volumes in container traffic, bulk cargo and auto and machinery units for the month of December contributed to this successful mid-year report,” Foltz said.

“Our deepwater ports offer a hub for transportation that is unmatched in the United States,” said Robert Jepson, chairman of GPA’s board. “It’s a place where ocean, road, rail and distribution centers come together to ensure that commerce is handled efficiently, environmentally responsibly and at the lowest cost possible.”

“Coweta County companies — both large and small — have benefited from convenient access to Georgia's ports,” Greg Wright, president of the Coweta County Development Authority, said in an interview late last year.

“Our businesses are now in competition with the world markets and not just the domestic one. Our large international corporate base continues to grow, and more efficient and cost-effective ways of getting product to market are essential,” Candace Boothby, president of the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce, observed last fall.

“Georgia ports are one of the biggest drivers of our state’s economy and account for about one out of every 12 jobs in the state,” U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, who lives in Coweta County, said in October.



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