Lt. Governor Casey Cagle: A Connection of Great ImPORT

Casey Cagle

Friday, June 9th, 2017

If you have ever taken time to study a map – you know that Georgia’s geographic location gives us many strategic advantages. For example, Savannah shares the same longitude as inland Cleveland, Ohio, allowing Georgia to serve as the seaport gateway for 80% of the nation's marketplace. The geographic advantages of Savannah, alone, position our port and state for great success, but when you combine Georgia's other assests - like Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, we quickly distiguish ourselves on an international scale. Through significant investments and strong relationships our two ports have harnessed their true potential to generate an engine of economic prosperity for our entire state.

In May, Georgia welcomed the two largest container ships to ever call on the East Coast (both over 4 football fields long), and an even larger ship is expected next month. Unloading the cargo containers of just one ship along a single rail-line would create a 70-mile long train. That would reach all the way from the Port of Savannah through Chatham, Bryan, Liberty, Evans, and Tattnall Counties and into Vidalia in Toombs County. Or, to use the example that my wife Nita loves – if packed with shoes, one container ship, could transport enough freight to supply every Georgian with 15 pair of shoes.

Equipped with the fastest growing port in the nation, the busiest airport in the world, and renowned educational institutions, we are poised for great growth and opportunity. But, we must continue to foster the relationships that have elevated Georgia to the place we are today.

Juan Carlos Varela, Panama’s President, has become a close friend – to me and Georgia. President Varela is a graduate of Georgia Tech, and I was honored to welcome him to Georgia when he delivered the commencement address to Georgia Tech’s graduating class of 2017. After visiting with him here, I visited Panama on an economic development mission. I studied the Panama Canal’s elaborate lock system, and learned even more about the strong connection between Georgia and Panama. 

Georgia is fortunate to have so many strong relationships, with countries worldwide, but this relationship is becoming particularly significant to the future of our state.

Over 40% of the traffic which passes through the widely-used canal makes its way to the Port of Savannah. And, this should only increase as we dredge the harbor to make our port more accessible to large container ships. 

Georgia Tech now has a Logistics Innovation and Research Center in Panama City. Georgia students are learning the intricacies of seaport logistics, and bringing mechanical know-how back home.

Within two days of docking in Savannah, the goods from a vessel can reach over 80% of the United States. As we continue to invest in exciting innovation this percentage will tick upward, and Savannah will become even more critical to the United States marketplace. 

Our burgeoning port is not only exciting for Savannah. Developments that strengthen our port strengthen our entire state. Our businesses can import raw materials and develop finished products all over Georgia. This creates jobs. Our inland ports that reach from Southwest Georgia to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains see more business. This creates jobs. Our agriculture producers can ship their world-class goods to world-wide markets. And guess what – this creates jobs. 

Relationships matter. Our relationship with Panama is just one relationship that will be of growing importance as society becomes increasingly connected. I will do everything in my power to ensure that this connection remains strong – because it is of great import.