Savannah Notches Record Cargo Volume

By the BF Staff
From the January/February 2016 Issue

The Georgia Ports Authority achieved record container volumes in 2015, Executive Director Curtis Foltz recently announced to the GPA board. Over the last calendar year, the Port of Savannah moved an all-time high 3.73 million 20-foot equivalent container units, an increase of 391,356 TEUs, or 11.7 percent compared to 2014.

Port of Savannah Georgia
Getting ready for Post-Panamax container vessels from the expanded Panama Canal, The Port of Savannah’s Garden City Terminal is adding four new cranes in 2016 and an additional four in 2018, to bring the total to 30 ship-to-shore cranes. (Source: – Steve B. Morton)

“The expansion was fueled in part by heightened demand in the U.S. Southeast, Savannah’s logistical advantages drawing new customers to Georgia, and cargo diverted from the West Coast,” Foltz said.

Total tonnage across all terminals reached a record 31.48 million tons in 2015, an increase of 1.09 million tons, or 3.6 percent. Container tonnage accounted for most of that growth, adding 991,031 tons (up four percent), for a total of 25.81 million tons. Bulk cargo added 60,705 tons (up 2.2 percent) to reach 2.86 million, while breakbulk cargo grew 1.7 percent, or 47,358 tons, to reach 2.79 million tons.

The GPA recently approved the purchase of four new ship-to-shore cranes for the Port of Savannah, bringing the total number to 30.

“With [this] decision, the Georgia Ports Authority will make a $47 million investment in order to maintain the highest level of service for port customers,” Foltz said. “Even before the new cranes arrive, Savannah has more cranes on its nearly two-mile long dock than any other single terminal in North America.”

Currently featuring 22 ship-to-shore cranes, Savannah’s Garden City Terminal’s additional four cranes will arrive in the late spring of 2018, with previously purchased machines already put into service at that time. The additions are part of the board’s Focus 2026 Capital Plan, which calls for 34 ship-to-shore cranes at Garden City Terminal.

Designed by Konecranes of Finland and assembled in Nantong, China, these machines can reach across vessels 22 containers wide and lift cargo weighing up to 72 tons to a height of 152 feet above the dock. Each crane weighs 1,388 tons and measures 433 feet wide and 185 feet tall.

The crane purchases, along with the ongoing Savannah Harbor deepening, anticipate a move in the world fleet toward larger ships. The average vessel calling on the U.S. East Coast is shifting from a capacity of 4,500 twenty-foot equivalent container units to more than 10,000 TEUs. An expanded Panama Canal will open to these larger vessels this year, providing an important new route for the more efficient ships. The larger vessels offer more than 30 percent savings on shipping costs.

In other business, the GPA board approved $8.2 million for Phase III of construction of a new empty container depot.

“Georgia’s deepwater ports achieved an outstanding year in 2015 with the hard work of our employees and partners in labor, shipping, trucking and rail,” said GPA Board Chairman James Walters. “By adding a truck gate, container yard space, container handling equipment and ship-to-shore cranes, the GPA is maintaining capacity ahead of demand to ensure efficient cargo movement.”


Gov. Nathan Deal has announced that Kaiser Permanente, an integrated provider of health care and coverage, will create 800 jobs in metro Atlanta. Of the newly created positions, more than 600 will be located at a new facility in Gwinnett County, representing a $51 million capital investment into the local community.

“The health care industry is an economic driver in Georgia,” said Deal. “Kaiser Permanente’s devotion to bettering the lives of citizens through innovative health care services makes the company a good fit for Georgia. The state looks forward to continuing this partnership with Kaiser Permanente as it further expands and produces a positive impact on Georgia’s economy.”

Kaiser Permanente will retrofit an existing building to serve as a Member Service Contact Center, bringing the company’s total presence in Georgia to some 5,000 personnel. Situated on an 18-acre site in Duluth, the 185,000-square-foot office complex will have the capacity to hold up to 1,000 contact center workers. The facility will also be designed to meet requirements for LEED certification.

The contact center, which will support Kaiser Permanente members across the country, is slated to open this fall. Employees will be tasked with handling calls related to insurance coverage and billing. In addition to recruiting new employees, Kaiser Permanente is relocating its Georgia-based member service representatives, appointment schedulers and advice nurses to the new facility.

“Kaiser Permanente has been caring for metro Atlanta residents for 30 years, and we are excited to be able to help this region’s economy thrive as well,” said Julie Miller-Phipps, president of Kaiser Permanente of Georgia. “By expanding our footprint in metro Atlanta, we are showing just how committed we are to bringing our unique model of care to this region.”

Last year, the health care organization announced plans to open a new IT facility in Midtown this spring, which is expected to create 900 jobs by 2019. Kaiser Permanente provides care and coverage to more than 10 million members across the country, including nearly 300,000 in Georgia. Existing contact centers are based in California, Colorado, Hawaii and Maryland.


Anthem, Inc., a leading provider of health benefit solutions, will expand its existing Customer Care Center in Columbus, creating 450 new jobs and making a capital investment of more than $3 million in Muscogee County.

“Anthem’s decision to expand in Columbus speaks to the strength and vitality of Georgia’s business-friendly environment,” said Gov. Nathan Deal. “This expansion further bolsters Georgia’s reputation as the nation’s top destination for health IT companies. We appreciate Anthem’s long-standing dedication to healthcare delivery and commitment to job creation, and we look forward to Anthem’s continued success in our state.”

Anthem’s office in Columbus currently employs 1,285 staff members. The expansion—scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017—will add an additional 450 employees, bringing the company’s total presence in Georgia to approximately 4,500 employees.

“Anthem is committed to working with the state of Georgia. With the opening of our new state of the art Columbus office, we look forward to hiring additional staff and contributing to the economic growth in this area of the state,” said Jose Tomas, Anthem’s executive vice president.

Anthem is the parent company of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, which has been in the state for 75 years and is the largest health insurer in Georgia. The Columbus office serves as the prototype for future Anthem office development, and houses call centers and staff in claims processing, enrollment and billing, IT, utilization management and provider services.

“We’ve been working with Anthem since 2013 on several expansion projects, including their new 235,000-square-foot Customer Care Center in Muscogee Technology Park,” said Brian Anderson, president/CEO of the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce.