Moderated by Rick Badie
Chalk up another record year for the Georgia Ports Authority. The total volume of goods handled by the ports increased nearly 8 percent from last year and there was a double-digit increase in the number of container units handled at the Port of Savannah. An executive says to expect more businesses to utilize our seaports and notes steps that have been, or will be, taken to make that a reality. Elsewhere, we touch on two other topics — how to answer the demand for a skilled manufacturing workforce and proposed changes in patent protection laws.
Georgia ports set record, eye future
By Curtis Foltz
Just last week, the Georgia Ports Authority announced that it moved more shipping containers in its recently concluded fiscal year than ever before. The port of Savannah marked a 17 percent increase in 20-foot equivalent container units (520,000 additional units) and the Authority as a whole experienced a 7.8 percent increase in total tonnage.
With the continued demographic growth of Atlanta and the Southeast, our ports are, increasingly, ports of choice for global importers and exporters. American businesses, shipping products to and from destinations across the globe, have chosen Georgia’s ports as a gateway to their supply chain.
Port of Savannah’s single-terminal design means shippers enjoy fast turn-times through one simple check-in process and have access to more available on-terminal infrastructure to handle larger vessels and volumes. Served by two Class 1 railroads (CSX and Norfolk Southern), Savannah has reliable, efficient westward transit in the South Atlantic region – including overnight rail service to Atlanta, Charlotte, Jacksonville and Birmingham, two-day service to Memphis and Nashville, and three-day service to Chicago, Cincinnati and Dallas.
As the Southeast continues to grow, the Panama Canal is deepened, and Savannah’s deepening progresses forward, we can anticipate more and more cargo to shift east. The urgent need shippers from Asia had to divert cargo to Savannah in the most recent fiscal year gave us opportunity to show we could handle additional volumes efficiently. Longer term, it is simply better for business and the environment to reach the booming Southeast population and economy via ocean and rail than it is for cargo to traverse the U.S. from the West.
We anticipate that this shift will gradually and incrementally continue, rather than mimic the spikes we saw most recently. It is demographically inevitable and we are ready.
Last week, Gov. Nathan Deal, House Speaker David Ralston, CSX, Murray County and the GPA announced one of the next steps to ensure we can continue building on this success – the Appalachian Regional Port. This new inland port will serve North Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky and not only provide a direct link to international markets via the Port of Savannah, but take up to 50,000 trucks off Atlanta highways in the first year.
Located in an industrial belt, which includes the production and export of carpet, flooring, automobiles and tires, the port will make commodities from this region more competitive in the global market by saving customers money on inland transit costs.
The Appalachian Port, the second of what will be a network of more than six inland ports, will continue to improve our ability to expand our market share and reach in the Southeast while helping to move cargo more economically, efficiently and environmentally sustainably.
In 2013, Gov. Deal, Cordele Intermodal Services and the GPA signed an agreement to launch the Cordele Inland Port which today handles cotton, clay, lumber and other agribusiness exports for customers in Georgia, Alabama and Florida.
Our ports impact industries from manufacturing and agriculture to mining, distribution, technology and transportation. We are increasing that impact with a logistics network that extends well beyond the coast, including inland ports. Ultimately economic prosperity for Georgia is what our ports are all about.
With the support of Deal, the Georgia legislature and our Congressional delegation in Washington, construction is moving forward on the Savannah Harbor expansion project in an anticipation of larger vessels that will soon arrive via an expanded Panama Canal. When completed next year, the Jimmy Deloach Parkway Extension will reduce driving time and congestion by bringing Interstate 95 directly into the port.
We continue to invest in cranes and other equipment that accelerate our ability to move cargo and shrink our environmental footprint. Such improvements give shippers confidence that we can maintain outstanding customer service and handle record growth.
Our customers know they can depend on Georgia.
Curtis J. Foltz is executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority.
Business skills include grooming, hiring talent
By Gary Campbell
One of the most top-of-mind challenges facing manufacturers is workforce development and the skills gap issue. Our company, Hire Dynamics, which focuses on the manufacturing industry, is a founding partner of Next Generation Manufacturing (NGM), a Georgia-based nonprofit dedicated to the manufacturing industry. They provide a business forum for manufacturers and their resources to exchange best practices relating to innovation, people and processes to create the next generation of manufacturing. The organization accomplishes this through timely programming and events throughout the Southeast.
As part of its ongoing focus on workforce development and diminishing the skills gap, NGM recently hosted a webinar on manufacturing workforce issues and solutions. I was one of the guest speakers, along with Larry Korak and Amy Ihlen, both executives with Infor, a global enterprise software solutions company.
Gary Campbell is a senior executive at Hire Dynamics.
Protect our inventors
By C. Russell Allen
Recently, it became easier for Georgia’s inventors to protect their creations from intellectual property thieves. In February, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rolled out “Georgia Patents,” a statewide program that matches low-income innovators with Pro Bono patent lawyers.
C. Russell Allen, president and CEO of Georgia Bio, is chairman of the Council of State Bioscience Associations.C. Russell Allen, president and CEO of Georgia Bio, is chairman of the Council of State Bioscience Associations.