As the fourth largest container port in North America (second largest on the East Coast) and fastest-growing port on the continent, port-related business is booming in Savannah. Logistics Today named Savannah “the most logistics friendly city in the nation” three years in a row, and Area Development magazine named Savannah “Top 5 for Best Cities with port-related Intermodal Sites.” Our ideal location on the Atlantic Ocean in the southeastern part of the United States puts 70 percent of the U.S. population within a two-day drive.
It’s easy to imagine the Port of Savannah as simply a place where ships embark and unload goods or disembark after having goods loaded.
The reality is a lot more complicated. Different modes of travel — whether it’s ship, truck, or rail — must move together smoothly and effectively, with coordinated multimodal transportation. These multimodal interchange hubs are extremely important to global trade.
In Savannah, we are well-positioned to support the expanding view of the role of ports and ever-growing global trade. With two intermodal hubs on the container port grounds, easy access to two national rail carriers, proximity to major east coast population centers via I-95 and I-16 (which are easily accessed via Jimmy Deloach), available land for distribution centers, and close proximity to an airport with capability to expand its cargo business, Savannah has the base elements of an excellent logistics infrastructure to serve as an important national supply chain hub.
As such, we can bring together, store, combine, and re-distribute products that are imported or exported via different modes of transport.
On top of excellent infrastructure, there’s also our geographic location. As the western-most port on the east coast, we’re comparatively close to the population centers, agriculture, and industry in the Midwest as well as the fast-growing Southeastern markets. In addition, the Georgia Ports Authority’s investment and planning for inland distribution points further into the state (using rail to bypass congested roads) further strengthens the port’s ability to expand its effective reach for imports and exports.
It’s no wonder, then, that our port is a model for others to study and emulate. Last week, more than 50 industry, government and academia professionals from countries as wide-flung as Singapore, Panama, United States, Germany, Belgium, and The Netherlands gathered to discuss the emerging role of ports in global trade. The conference, sponsored by Georgia Tech, explored such topics as port logistics in the physical internet era, new port roles as industry interconnectors and regional development enablers, and the impact of ever-larger ships in maritime-intensive supply chains.
The Port of Savannah has long been key to Georgia’s economic success, and the world is taking notice. With ongoing record-breaking port activity, the widening of the Savannah River, and the widening of the Panama Canal, Savannah is poised for a continued run of strong economic growth.
Tim Brown serves as the managing director of the Supply Chain &Logistics Institute (SCL), an Interdisciplinary Research Center at Georgia Tech. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912.966.7975.