Georgia’s ports handled a record number of units during the last fiscal year, according to figures released Monday.
The Port of Savannah moved more than 3 million container units for the first time ever, an increase of 6.3 percent over the previous year.
Curtis Foltz, the Executive Director of the Georgia Ports Authority, says an improving economy and labor disputes at ports on the West Coast have helped steer more business to Georgia's ports.
"As the demographic growth occurs in the southeast, more and more customers want to come through our ports to access that strong, regional presence we have, and take advantage of really second-to-none highway and rail access," he says.
The GPA also saw a record year in the total volume of goods handled. The ports moved more than 29 million tons of freight, up 8 percent from last year.
The Authority is also making plans to expand capacity at the Port of Brunswick in response to growth in automobile imports and exports. At its meeting in Garden City on Monday, GPA board members agreed to commission an engineering firm to develop plans for a fourth berth. Foltz says that would increase the ship-handling capacity in Brunswick by 25 percent.
Brunswick’s port is second in the nation for automobiles. The port's Colonel Island Terminal saw 10 percent growth in auto processing during the 2014 fiscal year.
Foltz says plans to deepen the Savannah Harbor are on track, and his staff is working to purchase about 3,000 acres required as part of a plan to offset the environmental effects of the projects. He says he expects a key agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to be finished in September or October.