Record numbers of vehicles and heavy-duty machinery crossing state port docks on Colonel’s Island are helping propel the Georgia Ports Authority to yet another record-breaking month.

The numbers represent an increase in excess of 300%, port officials reported.

“Georgia’s deepwater ports are thriving, and that’s good news for a wide range of industries,” Gov. Brian Kemp said. “Thanks to conservative leadership and the fact that we never really shut down Georgia businesses during the pandemic, the Peach State’s economy is rebounding quickly.

“From logistics to manufacturing and retail, the ripple effect of booming trade at the ports of Savannah and Brunswick means business opportunity and job growth for hardworking Georgians.”

In May, vehicles and machinery units grew by 48,830 units, or 347%, for a total of 62,873 units.

The increase comes in the wake of an auto industry that was virtually sidelined during COVID-19. Car manufacturers faced plant closures and supply chain disruptions.

It should be smooth sailing from this point on, port officials predict.

“We expect strong growth to continue in autos and machinery as manufacturers return to normal operations,” GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch said.

The Port of Savannah handled 478,620 twenty-foot equivalent container units in May, the second busiest month in the port’s history, and the 10th consecutive month of positive year-over-year growth.

The number reflects a 41.9% increase over last year.

Port officials said the facilities saw a fast recovery from the global economic downturn of 2020.

“Last year, at this time, we were uncertain of the road ahead and expecting a double-digit loss in business,” said outgoing GPA Board Chairman Will McKnight. “To see how the GPA team and our supply chain partners have turned things around to achieve a string of the most successful months ever speaks volumes for this world-class workforce.”

For the fiscal year to date, June through May, GPA has moved nearly 4.9 million TEUs, putting it on pace to surpass 5 million TEUs for the first time. Total cargo crossing all GPA docks reached 3.8 million tons last month, up 26 percent, or 781,121 tons. Rail volumes for the month grew 28 percent, or approximately 12,029 lifts, for a total of 54,436 containers.

“We believe managing the new cargo that’s coming our way benefits the economy, jumpstarts economic development and sustains long-term growth,” Lynch said. “We are encouraged by the board’s support as we advance our strategic plan to ensure we absorb this growth more effectively in the future.”

The ports authority is beefing up its workforce to keep up with growth. Since January, it has hired nearly 150 new employees since January 2021.

Many of these employees are being trained in jockey trucks, yard cranes and other equipment to handle growth at GPA’s facilities.

“Our board will continue to invest in Georgia ports’ most important resource – our employees,” said incoming GPA Board Chairman Joel Wooten. “We also remain committed to enhancing GPA facilities to sustain our communities for years to come.”

According to figures released by GPA, the state’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 496,700 jobs across Georgia and contribute $29 billion in income, $122 billion in revenue and $3.4 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy.

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