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Thursday, September 17, 2009 - 11:07am

Head of Georgia Ports Authority Stepping Down

Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) Executive Director Doug Marchand said Thursday he's stepping down after 15 years as the state's chief ports officer.

Marchand made the announcement at the annual State of the Ports address in Savannah.

Marchand will step down at the end of the year to serve GPA in an advisory role.

Curtis Foltz, GPA's chief operating officer, will replace him.

Under Marchand's leadership, the Georgia Ports significantly grew its warehouse capacity and, in the process, doubled its share of the East Coast shipping market.

Governor Sonny Perdue called Marchand a customer-oriented shipping leader.

"When you bring the big box distribution centers, then you're going to bring the people who serve those customers," Perdue said. "Strategically, that was a brilliant move. It literally has changed the face of Savannah ports and the Georgia Ports Authority."

Marchand also announced Thursday that Kia Motors would use the Savannah port to ship parts to its new plant in West Georgia.

That will increase port traffic in Savannah by 15,000 twenty-foot equivalent units. (TEU's is a shipping industry measurement of traffic.)

Overall, however, total traffic through GPA ports during the last fiscal year was 2.4 million TEU's, a decrease of about 10% over the previous fiscal year.

The decrease was due to the global economic slowdown and represents Georgia's first drop in port traffic in decades.

Globally, it was the first year in the history of containerized cargo, which began in the 1950's, that total global traffic decreased.