New distribution hubs coming to Savannah as part of ports boom


Georgia’s ports enjoyed a record breaking year for cargo in the past fiscal year, and that growth is a driver for private investment expected to bring hundreds of new logistics jobs to the Savannah region.

Furniture retailer Noble House and home accessories seller Best Choice each plan large new East Coast distribution hubs near the Savannah port, Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch will announce Thursday, part of a wave of new warehouse development there and more broadly across the state since the opening of the expanded Panama Canal.

Lynch and state dignitaries, including Gov. Nathan Deal, are expected to outline the two new warehouse projects, and plans for expansion at the Savannah and Brunswick ports during the State of the Ports annual meeting later today in Savannah.

“As our state’s gateways to global commerce, the Ports of Georgia are part of the crown jewels of our state,” Deal is expected to say, according to prepared remarks provided to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “They are a major component to our ongoing reputation as the No. 1 state in which to do business – a distinction that we have secured for four years in a row now and aim to keep. Indeed, the ports are the powerful economic engines that keep our state economy running so well.”

The state’s ports moved 3.85 million twenty-foot equivalent (TEU) container units in the 12 months ended in June, up 6.7 percent from the prior year. Total tonnage grew by 8.3 percent. The Brunswick facility, meanwhile, moved 607,000 auto and machinery units.

“We’ve not only had a record year this past year but we anticipate that we will have similar growth or greater this year,” ports authority Chairman Jimmy Allgood said in an interview Wednesday.

In the same interview, Lynch attributed much of that growth to the expanded Panama Canal. The Savannah port saw its first 13,000-TEU ship in May and since that time the port is now seeing ships up to 14,000-TEUs about every week.

“We are the largest trading partner on the East Coast with the canal,” Lynch said.

The distribution center business around Atlanta also is growing, Lynch said, citing Williams Sonoma and other retailers like Tory Burch that have opened or announced new distribution hubs in the Atlanta area.

As a result, The GPA is considering buying land in northeast Georgia for another inland port to serve the growing 15-county area surrounded by Gainesville.

Lynch said if the authority moves forward, a land sale could happen by the end of the year.

“We don’t have a done deal but we feel very good about this,” he said. “This is a part of the state that is exploding in growth, both with people and cargo.”

To keep up with demand, the state and the ports authority has a number of other expansion projects underway or on the drawing board.

Among these are the dredging of the Savannah River channel to accommodate larger vessels. The cost of the project has climbed to nearly $1 billion.

State officials were dismayed in May when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency tasked with overseeing the project to deepen Savannah’s harbor, put less overall money into the deepening project than they’d hoped.

Still, other projects also will be key to success for the ports. These projects include:

  • A $128 million rail expansion on the Savannah port campus that will help the authority handle trains nearly 2 miles in length and position the Savannah port to be able to increase its service to markets west to Memphis and St. Louis and north to Chicago and the Ohio Valley. Construction is slated to start early next year and finish by the end of 2020.
  • Acquiring new Super Post-Panamax ship-to-shore cranes. Ten are on order which would boost the fleet to 36 by 2020 at the Garden City Terminal.
  • The opening of the Appalachian Regional Port in Chatsworth, an inland port expected to enter service next year.
  • New truck entry lanes at the Savannah port.
  • The state’s planned network of road improvements, including overhauls to the I-16/I-95 interchange, and highway links to better connect the port to the state’s interstate system.

Related coverage

Anthem tech hub to anchor new Midtown Atlanta tower near Georgia Tech

Savannah’s port helping drive Atlanta’s industrial sector

MYAJC.COM: REAL JOURNALISM. REAL LOCAL IMPACT.

AJC Business reporter J. Scott Trubey keeps you updated on the latest news about economic development and commercial real estate in metro Atlanta and beyond. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:

Never miss a minute of what's happening in local business news. Subscribe to myAJC.com.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

Amazon raises monthly Prime membership rate
Amazon raises monthly Prime membership rate

The monthly membership fee for Amazon Prime rose Friday from $10.99 to $12.99. Company officials said the annual membership will remain at $99 dollars. Monthly customers do not get access to Amazon Video, which costs $8.99 a month. The last Prime subscription hike came in 2014, when Amazon increased its yearly membership from $79 to $99. The e-commerce...
Top tips for selling your old stuff on eBay (and actually making cash)
Top tips for selling your old stuff on eBay (and actually making cash)

Too much clutter, too little money, too many gifts you didn't like... an eBay auction is one of the simplest solutions to all three issues. If your trash might be someone else's treasure, an eBay business is simple to start and accessible to just about anyone. "It has low start-up costs and it can be started out of your home," noted the ...
After mauling, Delta tightens emotional support animal restrictions
After mauling, Delta tightens emotional support animal restrictions

In the wake of a horrific mauling of a Delta passenger by another traveler’s emotional support dog last year, Delta is tightening restrictions on emotional support animals in flight. To travel with an emotional support animal, starting March 1 Delta Air Lines will require a “confirmation of animal training” form signed by the...
Metro Atlanta, Georgia officials to present united front to nab Amazon
Metro Atlanta, Georgia officials to present united front to nab Amazon

Georgia’s full-fledged competition for Amazon’s second headquarters has entered a new and unpredictable phase now that it’s on the tech giant’s short list. But the state’s hunt for another major headquarters three years ago could provide valuable clues into its strategy for winning the project. Georgia’s long...
Kempner: Amazon, thanks for sort of picking Atlanta, but …
Kempner: Amazon, thanks for sort of picking Atlanta, but …

Amazon, it’s not that we’re ungrateful for Atlanta being one of your Top 20 choices for your second headquarters and 50,000 delicious jobs. We’ll hold off celebrating or feeling like we’ve gotten some kind of affirmation until we figure out if you just like us a good bit or really love us. Yes, we do think we are all that...
More Stories