Port of Savannah draws extra business from West Coast labor dispute

Dave Williams, April 16, 2015, Atlanta Business Chronicle

Lingering effects of a labor dispute at West Coast ports are playing into the hands of the Georgia Ports Authority.

The Port of Savannah smashed its previous record for containerized cargo last month, the authority reported Wednesday. Savannah moved 333,058 TEUs (20-foot equivalent container units) in March, breaking the record set last October by more than 21,000 TEUs.

Total containerized cargo for the month was up 27.8 percent over March of last year.

“There is a growing demand and backlog in the supply chain in Asia looking for a way to get their cargo to market,” said Curtis Foltz, the authority’s executive director. “Savannah was in the center of their bullseye.”

The smooth flow at the Port of Savannah contrasted sharply with other East Coast ports, which have suffered congestion due to increased business generated by the shutdown of ports along the West Coast.

Foltz said the activity at Savannah last month matched expectations for 2018.

“We do a good job of projecting what we expect five to 10 years out and building infrastructure to support that growth,” he said.

While a new contract agreement with 20,000 dockworkers at West Coast ports was signed in February, congestion at those ports is expected to continue for several months.

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