Stacy Watson, Director, Economic & Industrial Development at the Georgia Ports Authority gave an update on the Northeast Georgia Inland Port that is being developed in Gainsville, Hall County, just minutes from Jackson County, Georgia. Stacy made the trip north to Jackson County from his home in Savannah, Georgia just to share the latest news on the Northeast Georgia Inland Port with the local business community.
Northeast Georgia is the Perfect Location for an Inland Port
Jackson County, GA is strategically located to take advantage of the Northeast Georgia Inland Port. Jackson County has several thousand acres of industrial property that are ready for development. Jackson County also has several million square feet of available industrial warehouse and distribution center space. Jackson County is located just Northeast of Atlanta, Georgia on Interstate 85. There are four Exits on I-85 within Jackson County. There is also an exit on the east side of the county and another on the west side of the county that are each less than a mile from Jackson County. Two Class I Rail Providers, CSX and Norfolk Southern serve parts of Jackson County (rail served sites are available!). Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (busiest airport in the world) is a quick one-hour drive from most of Jackson County via I-85. Jackson County even has an airport of its’ own, cleverly named “Jackson County Airport!”
When you put the pieces together, you see why Jackson County has attracted the attention and investment of Class A commercial real estate developers, like those that are members of the Jackson Alliance – Jackson County, Georgia’s central Economic Development Organization.
Jackson And Hall Counties Are Both A Natural Part Of Georgia’s Transportation Network
Stacy said, “You guys are about to become part of the Georgia Ports Authority family. Driving through the area, I was able to see a lot of our customers that use the Garden City Terminal in Savannah, GA. With all the developers that are building, and all the manufacturing that’s taking place – it was a no brainer for the Georgia Ports Authority to come to the Jackson County area.
Stacy went on to share some other impressive stats about the Port of Savannah and the Port of Brunswick.
- The Garden City Terminal in Savannah, Georgia is the largest container port in the U.S at over 1200 acres.
- The Port of Brunswick on Colonel’s Island is second busiest Ro/Ro (roll on, roll off, such as cars or Kubota’s tractors) port in the U.S., second only to Baltimore, Maryland.
- Colonel’s Island has experienced non-stop growth for Ro/Ro cargo, there’s room to double the capacity, and the Georgia Ports Authority is actively investing into the Port of Brunswick.
- The Appalachian Regional Port serves a very wide region, and regularly crosses State lines to serve customers. This is good for Georgia.
- In the State of Georgia, 439,000 full time jobs, or their part-time equivalents, exist due to the economic impact of Georgia’s Ports. – University of Georgia, Terry College of Business, 2018
- 5% of U.S. East Coast Containerized Trade comes through the Port of Savannah.
- 8% of U.S. Containerized Exports are shipped out from the Port of Savannah.
- In CY2018, container volume was up 4% (2018)
Georgia Ports Authority: Growing Demand, Great Planning, New Opportunities
Stacy said “Our biggest competition for market share actually isn’t The Port of Charleston, S.C. or The Port of Jacksonville, FL. The Port of Savannah’s biggest competition are the ports on the West Coast of the U.S. in Los Angeles, CA and Long Beach, CA.”
Stacy went on to say, “we do about 65% of our business with Asia, including China, Japan, and SK Innovation’s home country, Korea.”
Now that the Panamax Canal has completed its huge upgrade in the size of container ships they can serve, Asian Countries are looking more to the East Coast of the U.S. which is densely populated and growing (especially the areas surrounding Atlanta, Georgia)
Stacy stated “70% of the U.S. population is located East of the Mississippi River. That’s why places like Jackson County, GA can reach 80% of the U.S. population within a two-day truck drive.”
Now Stacy was getting fired-up…
“The Port of Savannah is the 4th busiest Port in the U.S. and the fastest growing. Why? Because we’re about 100 miles closer to Atlanta than any other U.S. port. We’re the most Westerly Port on the U.S. East Coast.”
Shipping products via container ship is much less expensive than shipping those same products by truck, which is why the Asian Countries are so focused on the Port of Savannah – they can keep their products on the water longer which reduces transportation costs.
Stacy said, “Every major Carrier Calls on Savannah. The Port of Savannah has 35 weekly vessel calls from carriers that are covering the world. The Garden City River Terminal is second only to the Ports of New York & New Jersey, which is at 36.”
Northeast Georgia Inland Port Questions & Answers
Q. How much does the City of Savannah like the Port? Does the Port cause a lot of problems for the community, such as traffic?
A. The City of Savannah does not have problems with the Port of Savannah. As ships call on the Port of Savannah, they’re able to float right past the historic district. The Garden City Terminal is built to get containers on the road as quickly and efficiently as possible. We’re able to get our containers moving out quickly and commuters don’t experience delays because of what we do at the Port of Savannah.
Q. When will the Northeast Georgia Inland Port be operational?
A. Timing for the Northeast Georgia Inland Port to become operational is expected to be around 2022 to 2023. The site has been identified and is moving forward. Progress is being made. Tim Evans (Vice President of Economic Development, Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce) from Hall County, is working closely with the Georgia Ports Authority to ensure the Northeast Georgia Inland Port will have maximum benefit for the entire region. The Northeast Georgia Inland Port project has all the momentum needed, and we’re out talking to potential customers now.
Q. Norfolk Southern recently broke ground on their new headquarters in Atlanta, GA. Did all this activity in Georgia’s intermodal network (Network Georgia) influence Norfolk Southern’s decision to locate their headquarters in Atlanta?
A. Norfolk Southern’s wise decision to move to Georgia was for the same reasons that so many other companies are also coming to Georgia, such as access to a qualified workforce with reasonable wages/benefits, the thriving business climate, ease of moving product via rail, the huge network of customers/suppliers in the region, etc. Norfolk Southern is a GREAT company to work with, and we’re excited to get to work with them a little closer now that we’re all in Georgia.
Q. Will the Northeast Georgia Inland Port handle anything other than containers, such as break-bulk or Ro/Ro?
A. Currently, the Northeast Georgia Inland Port is strictly containers. Unless something changes, that is the plan going forward.
All Good Things Must Come To An End
Stacy ended by saying “You should feel confident we (Georgia Ports Authority) will do everything possible to make the Northeast Georgia Inland Port a huge success. I look forward to working with more customers from the Greater Jackson County Region.”
About “Business & Breakfast”
The event, titled “Business & Breakfast” is put on by the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce, and is a monthly breakfast meeting with a keynote speaker. The speaker typically will address some of the most pressing issues facing members of Jackson County’s business community; such as the Northeast Georgia Inland Port.
The Jackson Chamber has the responsibility for administering Economic Development for all of Jackson County, and this work is done through The Jackson Alliance (a sub-group of The Chamber). Topics at the Business & Breakfast events are frequently Economic Development related.