When most people think of the state of Georgia, they think of its capital, Atlanta. However, more and more people are starting to think “Savannah” when they think of the “Peach State” as well – including Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who took time out of a day full of signing legislation to note that Savannah has one of the brightest hospitality and tourism outlooks in the region to accompany the other angles of its economic recovery.
“Literally some of the hardest-hit sectors of our economy were in hospitality, travel, [and] tourism,” Kemp said. All of these sectors are primary drivers of the Savannah economy, which is also bolstered by its deep-water ports that serve as a magnet for international and national trade and investment. According to the Georgia Ports Authority, the ports create jobs and business opportunities that benefit nearly 10 million Georgians, and the GPA is one of the state’s largest (and officially essential) employers.
The governor continued, “We are starting to see that life [in those hardest-hit sectors] coming back in places like Savannah and all throughout Coastal Georgia,” and added, “It’s good for our state as a whole.”
Between July 2020 and March 2021, Georgia’s ports reported a 15 percent increase in volume that would necessitate the GPA expediting capacity expansion in 2021. This rise in volume was, in large part, due to COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns throughout the country. However, as the virus continues to spread around the United States and new strains emerge globally, most analysts agree that online ordering and other consumer trends will result in port activity remaining high.
The GPA announced two capital-improvement projects to boost capacity at the ports another 20 percent: the Peak Capacity Project and a new transloading facility. Both projects will bring essential jobs to the area and contribute to a recession-resistant and COVID-resistant employment base in the area.
“Expansion of both capacity and capability at the Port of Savannah will help fuel our continued economic recovery, which is excellent news for hard-working Georgians employed across a wide range of industries,” Kemp said. GPA board chairman Will McKnight added that Georgia’s ports are successful in large part because of a longstanding goal of staying “ahead of the growth curve” in port capacity. This observation holds true for 2020 and 2021 and should continue to do so in the future.