Georgia needs its ports

One of the state’s crown jewels set a major record in April.

Georgia’s Brunswick and Savannah ports set a monthly level of cargo — 2.4 million tons, a 4.7 percent increase over the same month last year. This is big economic news for the state, as the ports bring in the materials our area businesses need to remain competitive.

It also shows that our ports are not only among the biggest in the United States, but also internationally. They provide a way for the state’s industries to get their products out to the global market. The impact of Savannah and Brunswick to our state economy is huge. To give you an idea, the ports support about 350,000 jobs, or eight percent of the state’s total employment.

In monetary terms, as a story in our paper pointed out on Thursday, the ports account for about $1.4 billion in revenue for the state and $1.1 billion in local revenue.

Yet we can’t rest on those laurels. The Panama Canal, through which ships from the Far East enter to get to U.S. eastern ports, is in the process of being deepened. That’s because as the world’s trade increases, bigger and bigger ships are being built. As it stands now, only two eastern seaboard ports —Baltimore, Md., and Norfolk, Va. — can handle these bigger ships.

It’s imperative the state and federal government secure the necessary funds to deepen those ports. Failure to do so, as Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce President Candace Boothby pointed out in Thursday’s story, will result in “job losses at the ports — followed by decreased plant expansions in Coweta and the rest of the state. Think of Georgia without the Atlanta international airport.”

Let’s not. And let’s do everything in our power to ensure the federal government provides the necessary funds. Georgia has allocated $231.1 million toward the expansion, which is estimated to cost $652 million.

There’s a lot of wasteful spending coming out of Washington in terms of pork barrel projects. This is not one.



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