Mike Klein Online

Georgia Finally Gets Its Own Big Dig in Savannah



President Barack Obama has signed legislation that will provide nearly a half billion federal dollars to deepen the Savannah River and Harbor, a project that is essential to Georgia’s economic future when larger ships begin to move through the Panama Canal.  Georgia congressional delegation members attended Tuesday morning’s White House signing ceremony.

The President said, “As more of the world’s cargo is transported on these massive ships we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got bridges high enough and ports that are big enough to hold them and accommodate them so that our businesses can keep selling goods made in America to the rest of the world.” The Port of Savannah project is one among thirty-four water infrastructure projects funded by House Resolution 3080.  The Boston Harbor will also be deepened.

The Savannah River and Harbor deepening project has been under consideration – and much bureaucratic analysis — for more than fifteen years. The port will be dredged to 47 feet, up five feet from current maximum depth. The Harbor entrance channel will be extended seven miles further into the Atlantic.

Georgia Ports Authority Facilities in Savannah

Georgia Ports Authority Facilities in Savannah

“This project is crucial for our region and will support hundreds of thousands of jobs each year while generating billions in revenue for the entire southeast,” said Georgia’s two United States Senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson.  “We have personally received confirmation from the administration that there is no longer any impediment to moving forward with the Savannah harbor project or to obtain federal funds down the road to support the project.”

To understand why this is important look to Panama where the canal that connects the Pacific and Atlantic oceans is being improved so larger ships can transit between the oceans.   Failure to deepen Savannah would reduce its capability to handle global shipping and likely would cause Savannah to lose its ranking as one of North America’s leading ports.

Panama expansion was slated to finish this year but now a 2015 construction completion seems more likely.  If you wonder how much bigger these ships can get, think about cargo monsters that are twice the size of those that already transit the channel.

Panama Canal Expansion / Photo by The Maritime Executive

Panama Canal Expansion / Photo by The Maritime Executive

Total current estimated cost for the Savannah River project is $706 million. Georgia’s share would be about $266 million which has already been set aside in state funds.  The federal government will become responsible for remaining costs.

Congress initially approved SHEP — the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project in 1999.  The Port of Savannah currently moves four times the number of container ships that passed through the facility fifteen years ago.  The state says Georgia’s Savannah and Brunswick deep water ports support more than 352,000 jobs annually while generating $66.9 billion in revenue, $18.5 billion in income and $2.5 billion in state and local taxes.

Georgia and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will execute an agreement to stipulate more specifically how costs will be shared.  Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Curtis Foltz said in a statement Tuesday morning that the agreement should be complete within ninety days.

Additional Resources:

Governor Nathan Deal May 20 Statement on Savannah Harbor Expansion Project

Georgia Ports Authority Harbor Expansion Website

(Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation)

(Published Tuesday, June 10, 2014)

June 10, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Georgia Public – Private Partners Launch Internet Shipping Marketplace

Mike Klein

The next big thing in logistics (that means moving stuff from one place to another) might already have happened right here in Georgia.  Georgiafreight.com is a coordinated marketplace of transportation options for moving anything from here to there or almost anywhere.

It exists entirely on the Internet, it’s easy to use (even I was able to understand it) and here’s the best news yet, it comes with a whole bunch of built-in discounts. You can get discounts for being a Georgia company and for shipping from one Georgia address to another.

Georgiafreight.com is a project of Efreightsolutions, a private company, but it was hatched with lots of assistance from the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics which is headquartered on the Georgia Tech campus in Savannah.  It received a big boost forward from Kennesaw State University president Dan Papp who connected Efreightsolutions and the Innovations Center.

“It’s an online freight portal and there are lots of them out there, but what was lacking was a focus on Georgia,” said Page Siplon, director of the state’s Center of Innovation for Logistics.  This online model provides several tiers of service and lots of options for moving product by air, rail, truck or water.  Siplon said the model could soon be expanded to California and New York.

The Georgiafreight.com story will be center stage when the 2011 Georgia Logistics Summit convenes over two days next week at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta.  But the company’s ability to help industries move products will be just one reason that it makes headlines.

Using its own private funds, Georgiafreight.com will make program awards to five Georgia universities that offer logistics education.  Siplon said the company will also announce an inaugural Logistics and Community Leadership Award to a person (or persons) for work within the industry and dedication to foster care programs.  University and personal award recipients will be honored during Monday evening’s reception at the Cobb Galleria Centre.

Page Siplon

Next Tuesday’s daylong third annual Georgia Logistics Summit is rapidly becoming a must-attend event for private industry and public stakeholders.  Siplon launched the event as a 2009 luncheon and 450 attended.  “We knew we were onto something,” Siplon said.  Last year it moved to the Cobb Galleria and attendance doubled.  Some 1,200 are registered for Tuesday.

The entire reason the conference exists is to explain how Georgia can move products.  “It’s a complicated industry so when you say logistics, a lot of things come to mind,” Siplon said.  “What was lacking was a place where all those people could get together and talk.”

Tuesday scheduled keynote speakers include Jack Wells, chief economist for the U.S. Department of Transportation.  Wells will meet with Georgia Ports Authority executives on Monday in Savannah before his conference address on Tuesday in Atlanta.

The Savannah River and harbor deepening project remains the biggest elephant in the room. Georgia needs to dredge the river from its current 42-foot depth to 48 feet to accommodate larger ships that will begin to navigate the new Panama Canal in three years.  Project cost is estimated at $500-to-$600 million, to be shared between Georgia and the federal government.

Georgia has already committed its share of about 25 percent, but Washington has not followed suit.  “Yes, that is probably the most visible project because it affects so many things,” Siplon said.  “It is a project we are going to have to fund one way or another.  Georgia is at the crossroads of global commerce.  We shouldn’t have to beg for resources to do that.”

Here is a video about the economic impact of the Georgia ports in Savannah and Brunswick.

Tuesday’s conference will include breakout sessions on air freight, agribusiness, energy, life sciences, manufacturing and ocean freight.  Other scheduled speakers include Governor Nathan Deal, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Georgia Ports Authority executive director Curtis Foltz, state economic development commissioner Chris Cummiskey, state transportation commissioner Vance Smith and logistics industry executives.

Click here to learn more about the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics.

(Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation)

May 6, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment