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U.S. Secretary of Transportation LaHood Visits Port of Savannah

11/15/2011 - Savannah

Savannah, Ga. – November 15, 2011 – The Georgia Ports Authority, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed hosted U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood today for a briefing on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project and a tour of the Port of Savannah.

LaHood, a strong advocate for ports around the country, spoke with state and local leaders about the Savannah project, and the Obama Administration’s twin goals of improving transportation infrastructure and doubling U.S. export growth by 2015.

"The Port of Savannah is an economic engine that benefits workers and businesses across the region,” said Secretary LaHood. "When we invest in our ports and waterways it allows us to move goods more quickly and efficiently, spur economic growth and help make America even more competitive in the global market."

The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is critical for the Port of Savannah – the fastest growing and fourth largest U.S. container port – to efficiently handle larger vessels, making U.S. cargo available to global markets.

“I would like to thank Secretary LaHood for taking the time to visit the Port of Savannah – the growing gateway for American commerce and a strong economic engine for the U.S. economy,” said Gov. Deal. “With 44 percent of the U.S. population served by the Port of Savannah, it is critical that federal funding is approved for Savannah’s harbor deepening project. This project – one of the most important and productive civil works projects in the country – will maintain and create jobs and commerce throughout the region.”

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, a strong advocate for the port deepening, sees the harbor expansion as vital to the future of Georgia and the nation.

“Deepening of the Savannah port is consistent with the priorities of the nation and the president’s focus on increasing the export capability for the U.S.,” Reed said. “Completion of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is crucial to achieving an ambitious goal of doubling U.S. exports.”

GPA Board Chairman Alec L. Poitevint pointed out that the Port of Savannah’s export volume grew 12 percent in FY2011 and represented 53 percent of its overall volume.

“Export commodities translate into new jobs for our entire region,” Poitevint said. “Balanced trade at the Port of Savannah will continue to drive development and commerce throughout the Southeast.”

Under the Competitive Supply Chain Initiative, which is an important piece of the Obama Administration’s National Export Initiative, the Departments of Commerce and Transportation are working with freight system users and stakeholders to identify the critical elements of a comprehensive, holistic U.S. freight policy. This initiative’s goal in developing such a policy is to achieve the seamless and facilitated goods movement across all transportation modes throughout the nation, which is needed to boost U.S. export sales and U.S. national competitiveness.

“The GPA exported 12.5 percent of all U.S. containerized exports in fiscal year 2011, which means one out of every eight of our nation’s export containers departed from Savannah,” said GPA’s Executive Director Curtis J. Foltz. “As larger vessels continue to call on the Port of Savannah, the increased global demand for exports through our terminals necessitates the efficiency and additional capacity of a deeper harbor.”

Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 295,000 jobs throughout the state annually and contribute $15.5 billion in income, $61.7 billion in revenue and $2.6 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy. The Port of Savannah handled 8.6 percent of the U.S. containerized cargo volume and 12.4 percent of all U.S. containerized exports in 2010.

For additional information, please contact GPA’s Senior Director of Corporate Communications Robert Morris at (912) 964-3855 or rmorris@gaports.com. Visit the GPA web site at www.gaports.com.