Georgia: Gateway For Global Trade

The Port of Savannah’s Garden City container terminal, the nation’s largest single-terminal operation, is adding more ship-to-shore cranes.

By the BF Staff
From the July/August 2021 Issue

Size, scope and location make the Port of Savannah’s Garden City container terminal a vital link in global retail supply chains. As the nation’s largest single-terminal operation —  and part of the Georgia Ports Authority network of facilities— Garden City’s 1,345-acre footprint promotes efficiencies and delivers greater flexibility.

The terminal is equipped for the influxes of cargo delivered by today’s megaships, with 30 ship-to-shore cranes, 172 rubber-tired gantry cranes and nine container berths—more than any other U.S. terminal. Another eight ship-to-shore cranes arrive in 2023.

Steady infrastructure investment increases the Georgia Ports Authority’s capacity, allowing its deepwater ports to absorb sudden influxes of cargo. Outfitting Garden City Terminal with cranes capable of serving the largest vessels calling the U.S. East Coast, additional container stacking space and greater on-terminal rail capacity were just a few of the techniques the Georgia Ports Authority employed to better handle the influx of container cargo over the past 11 months.

Currently, the Georgia Ports Authority is expediting projects to add 1.4 million twenty-foot equivalent container units of annual capacity. Expansion efforts include the Peak Capacity project, which will add 650,000 TEUs of annual container yard capacity in two phases at Garden City Terminal, with the first phase opening in September 2021. The Georgia Ports Authority is also developing 92 acres adjacent to the Mason Mega Rail Terminal. This development will be commissioned within two years and add 750,000 TEUs of annual capacity.

On the docks, the Georgia Ports Authority has started construction to straighten a bend at Berth 1 of Garden City Terminal. This will allow the Port of Savannah to simultaneously serve four 16,000-TEU vessels, as well as three additional ships. Berth 1 renovations will add an estimated 1 million TEUs per year of berth capacity by June 2023.

Featuring the largest on-terminal rail terminal for a port in North America, Savannah is poised to rapidly increase service to inland markets, from Dallas to Memphis, and into the Midwest via Class I rail providers CSX and Norfolk Southern. Upon completion, the 85-acre Mason Mega Rail Terminal will build and receive six 10,000-foot trains simultaneously.

“I am proud of how our team has not only handled unprecedented cargo volume, but simultaneously advanced long-term capacity enhancements that existed only on paper into fully-funded projects that will begin coming online this September,” said Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch.

In addition to these projects, Lynch detailed a plan to add a transloading facility on a 90-acre parcel just upriver from Garden City Terminal. He said a cross-docking warehouse will be completed in the summer of 2022, served by a yard with nine RTG cranes and an annual capacity of 400,000 TEUs.

Efficient port services and a strategic location central to the U.S. Southeast make Georgia Ports an important factor in the location of industries involved in international trade.

Private warehouse and distribution center development is key to facilitating the flow of cargo beyond the Georgia Ports Authority’s terminal gates, out to stores and customers. Savannah has an industrial market of nearly 80 million square feet, with more than 10.5 million square feet under construction. Beyond that, there is enough land permitted for private development for another 100 million square feet of industrial space within 30 miles of the port.

In May, Amazon announced an expansion to its significant presence in Georgia with a new fulfillment center planned in Savannah. The 640,000-square-foot facility will feature innovative Amazon robotics technology and create 1,000 full-time jobs. The new fulfillment center is expected to open in 2022. Amazon currently employs more than 21,000 people in Georgia.

Also in May, the state of Georgia and the Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor Joint Development Authority announced the purchase of a 2,284-acre economic development site. The purchase of the Bryan County Mega-Site is the largest in state history.

The Bryan County Mega-Site is strategically located adjacent to Interstate 16 with immediate access from I-95 and I-16 to 250 major metro areas, including Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte, Memphis and Orlando. The site is less than 30 miles from the Port of Savannah. Rail service to the site is provided by Georgia Central Railway, a short line railway that connects to CSX in Savannah and Norfolk Southern near Macon in Middle Georgia. Industrial utilities are adjacent to the site, and extensive due diligence reports have been completed to reduce barriers to speedy operations.

Statewide, Georgia’s ports support nearly 500,000 full- and part-time jobs across the state, according to a study released by the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business.

The latest figure is based on Fiscal Year 2019 impacts, and represents an increase of 57,500 jobs (up 13 percent) compared to the previous report covering FY2017. Georgia ports now account for 10 percent of total state employment. Personal income derived from port-supported jobs totaled $29 billion statewide in FY2019.

The Port of Savannah provides fast access to 45 percent of U.S. consumers and manufacturers. Immediate access to I-16 (East/West) and I-95 (North/South), means key cities and manufacturing points throughout the U.S. Southeast and Midwest may be reached within a one- to two-day drive.


Valdosta-Lowndes County, GA, is a vibrant and premier location for business development opportunities. Located midway between Atlanta and Orlando, in the heart of South Georgia, Valdosta-Lowndes County is strategically positioned for businesses to access and serve global markets.

“Our prime location, along with a strong logistics and supply chain network, provides a competitive advantage in helping businesses move their products quickly,” said Andrea Schruijer, executive director of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority (VLCDA).

The VLCDA makes it easy for small, medium and large companies to establish healthy roots for success and foster relationships with existing businesses to ensure continued growth.

Key industries in Valdosta-Lowndes County include advance manufacturing, distribution and logistics, and agribusiness and food processing.

Valdosta-Lowndes County serves as an economic, service, professional, retail, healthcare and tourism hub for a 15- to 18-county region within South Georgia and North Florida.

With eight industrial parks, Valdosta-Lowndes County is a perfect fit for almost any industry. Each park has unique attributes, including rail service for plastics and manufacturing to parks situated near Interstate 75 and north of Interstate 10 for distribution and service industries. Three industrial parks—Bassford Business Park, Miller Business Park and Westside Business Park—are recognized as Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development (GRAD) sites.

Valdosta-Lowndes County is home to a thriving K-12 education system that continues to provide excellent educational opportunities to the county’s future workforce. It is also home to five higher education institutions, including Valdosta State University and Wiregrass Georgia Technical College.

Georgia Ports AuthorityGeorgia Valdosta-Lowndes

Georgia Valdosta-Lowndes
Valdosta-Lowndes County is home to various key industries representing advance manufacturing, distribution and logistics, and agribusiness and food processing. (Photo: Valdosta-Lowndes Development Authority)

A comprehensive university, Valdosta State University is home to approximately 12,300 students and offers nearly 200 academic programs leading to associate, bachelor, master, specialist and doctoral degrees, as well as options to add a certification, minor, endorsement or certificate to that degree. In addition, Valdosta State University students participate in various experiential learning opportunities, including projects that support the growth of rural South Georgia, study abroad and exchange programs, internships, cooperative and service-learning, life-changing research and student-clinician experience in one of the university’s on-campus clinics. While most Valdosta State University students reside in Georgia, enrollment includes students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and more than 65 countries.

With an educational mission to prepare South Georgia’s workforce, Wiregrass Georgia Technical College has approximately 5,500 students enrolled in more than 100 programs of study, including credit and noncredit courses and distance learning options. Serving 11 South Georgia counties, Wiregrass Georgia Technical College has one of the state’s top dual enrollment programs and was the first college in Georgia to receive accreditation by the National Alliance for Concurrent Enrollment. In addition, Wiregrass Georgia Technical College maintains partnerships with numerous four-year colleges and universities to allow the seamless transfer of associate degree courses.

Valdosta-Lowndes County provides a favorable business climate, as Georgia is a right-to-work state and provides fast-track permitting, competitive warehouse cost and low property tax rates.

Valdosta-Lowndes County is a great place to do business, and the VLCDA works closely with businesses to help them succeed. Whether it’s an expansion, relocation or startup, the VLCDA is working to build a groundbreaking community.

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