Record growth in container volume at the Port of Savannah this year and increased export activity in recent weeks underscores results of a study suggesting Georgia ports’ positive impact on the state’s economy, said the study’s author, Jeffrey Humphreys.

Director of the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, Dr. Humphreys shared with GlobalAtlanta his findings of a study, titled “The Economic Impact of Georgia’s Deepwater Ports in Georgia’s Economy in FY 2006.”

The study was commissioned by the Georgia Ports Authority to assess how much income, jobs and taxes was directly and indirectly generated by the ports in fiscal year 2006, from July 1, 2005 — June 30, 2006.

Dr. Humphreys’ assessment showed that port activity supported 286,476 jobs, or one out of 14, in Georgia. The ports generated $55.8 billion in sales, including those by the port industry that handles cargo and by the manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and logistics companies that use the ports.

Of the sales generated, the bulk — some $52 million — was by port users, according to Dr. Humphreys. He said he drew from a 2003 survey he did of Georgia port users that asked to what extent their operations depended on the ports.

“Some Georgia companies are totally dependent on the ports and some are not. Some just import, and some count a portion of their output as directly related to the ports,” he said. “The ports preserve Georgia’s manufacturing base and foster growth of the state’s massive logistics, distribution and warehousing cluster,” he said.

Jobs in Georgia related to the ports accounted for $14.9 billion in income and contributed $2.8 billion in state and local taxes, according to Dr. Humphreys’ study.

The study did not differentiate between sales, jobs and income related to imports and those attributed to exports, but rather, accounted for cargo moving in both directions, Dr. Humphreys said.

“The ports generate a large impact on the state’s economy, whether exporting or importing. Exporting would be more important because it would reflect the activity of Georgia or U.S. manufacturers, but we looked at both,” he said. He added that the study included small, private docks that move cargo in addition to the Georgia Ports Authority-run ports of Savannah and Brunswick.

The study results reflected the ports authority’s reported 10.9 percent growth in the number of containers handled at the Port of Savannah in the first eight months of fiscal year 2007, which started July 1 and ends June 30, as compared to the same period the previous year.

Between July and February, the Port of Savannah handled 1,489,605 Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit containers. It handled 189,057 TEUs in the month of February, representing a 17.6 percent increase over the same period in 2006.

The growth was boosted by a surge in exports, which ports authority officials attributed to the lifting of a ban on U.S. poultry in China and some Mediterranean countries, as well as an increase in Georgia cotton exports to Turkey and forest products and kaolin clay to the Mediterranean and Asia.

These activities translated into some of the sales, jobs and state income reflected in Dr. Humphreys’ study, he said.

The last study of the ports’ economic impact on Georgia’s economy was conducted in 2003, also by Dr. Humphreys and the Selig Center.

Adjusting for inflation, the 2006 study concluded that the Georgia ports’ impact on production that took place in Georgia, not including value-added activity, was 44 percent higher than in the 2003 study. The ports’ impact on gross state product, which includes value-added activity, was 32 percent higher, and the ports’ effect on labor income was 26 percent higher than in the 2003 study.

Story Contacts, Links and Related Stories
Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business – Dr. Jeffrey Humphreys (706) 425-2962

Georgia Ports Authority – Robert Morris (912) 964-3855