Cosco Peony

The Crescent Tugboat Arkansas works the 14,000 TEU vessel Cosco Shipping Peony at the Georgia Ports Authority's Port of Savannah Garden City Terminal, Tuesday, Mar., 12, 2019, in Savannah, Ga.

The Georgia Commission on Freight & Logistics will hold its second meeting Wednesday amid news that the Georgia Ports Authority saw recording-breaking business in August.

The state’s porting industry handled 437,750 container units, which is 16.5 percent more than it did the same month last year, GPA ’s Executive Director Griff Lynch announced at a board meeting Tuesday.

“We’re seeing an early and strong start to peak season at the Port of Savannah,” Lynch said. “In addition to expanding trade on our regular weekly services, shipping lines are adding calls by sweeper ships to meet rising demand.” 

Lynch attributes the increase to the Port of Savannah’s expansion.

The Port of Savannah handled 8.5 percent of U.S. containerized cargo imports and 10 percent of all U.S. containerized exports in fiscal year 2017, according to the GPA. 

New construction and infrastructure improvements in the Savannah have created a gateway for distributors such as Wayfair, Shaw and Safavia. 

However, there is still room for private investors to utilize space with a vacancy of about 100,000 square feet– a rate of 1.42 percent. 

“At GPA, we’re making a call to action for private developers to enter or expand in this very active market,” GPA Board Chairman Will McKnight said. “Within a 30-mile radius of the Port of Savannah, there are more than 20,000 acres of industrial park space ready for development.”

Plastic Express, a logistics management company, announced in April it plans to invest $172 million in a new facility in Savannah. The first phase of the project is scheduled to become operational in November. 

Georgia’s port industry employees about 439,000 workers a year and contributes $25 billion in income, $106 billion in revenue and $2.9 billion in state and local taxes to the state’s economy, according to GPA representatives.

The Georgia Commission on Freight & Logistics was established to determine a business plan that would keep the state's import and export industry competitive. 

The commission will hold its second meeting at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Savannah Convention Center. Members have until Dec. 31 to report their findings to the lieutenant governor and Speaker of the House.

“Georgia has numerous competitive advantages when it comes to transportation and freight infrastructure, but we cannot afford to grow complacent,” House Speaker David Ralston said in a statement. “This commission will work with industry stakeholders to find ways we can move freight more efficiently and create jobs in the process.”

Staff Reporter

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for three years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.