Fri., January 20, 2012 5:15pm (EST)

PolitiFact Rates Port Claim 'Half True'
By Orlando Montoya and Andrea Cervone
Updated: 3 years ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
The Savannah port has remained competitive despite a wavering economy, exporting over six million tons of containerizerd cargo during the last fiscal year.  (photo Georgia Ports Authority)
The Savannah port has remained competitive despite a wavering economy, exporting over six million tons of containerizerd cargo during the last fiscal year. (photo Georgia Ports Authority)
PolitiFact is giving Governor Nathan Deal a "half-truth" rating for saying Savannah harbor deepening will create jobs.

Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed were in Washington Friday seeking federal funds for the expansion.

The Governor says, deepening the river is a job-creating project.

But U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Billy Birdwell says, the agency actually didn't study jobs, only benefits to shipping.

"We studied and discovered that if we deepen the harbor there that there will be greater efficiencies in transportation," Birdwell says. "These greater efficiencies will have a net benefit to the nation of over $115 million annually."

Birdwell says, the main purpose of the study was to look at the overarching benefits of deepening the port.

"Our real focus was on the net economic benefits to the nation," Birdwell says. "We determined that the greatest net benefit to the nation was from transportation efficiencies, in other words, more efficient way ship goods in an out of the United States," Birdwell says.

A Corps of Engineers report says, it could create some temporary jobs, but it's unclear how many of those would be new.

Dave Kyler of Center for a Sustainable Coast says, the claim isn't surprising given the economy,

"For political reasons, if people want support for what they're proposing, they will always claim it is a job creator," Kyler says. "There's very little if ever any followup validating those claims about job creation after that project is done"

The harbor expansion is aimed at accommodating larger cargo ships.