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New port near Savannah could help Liberty
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Georgia and South Carolina have announced they plan to put aside differences and work together to create a proposed Jasper terminal site on land along the Savannah River.
The states have been squabbling about the land and who should have control of it for years because the Georgia Department of Transportation owns it, but it is located in South Carolina.
“Today’s announcement marks a historic day in the long-term economic viability of this region,” Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue said recently. “Commerce doesn’t begin or end at a line drawn on a map, so it was crucial for the two states to come together and ensure that prosperity continues.”
Local business leaders think the rewards of a new port to the north will trickle south to Liberty County.
“That’s great news primarily because of the type of industry we will be attracting at the port in Midway,” Liberty County Development Authority Chairman Allen Brown said, referring to the Tradeport Business Centers in east Liberty County. “We plan to have the type of industry that needs to have ports close by.”
According to LCDA member and state Rep. Al Williams (D-Midway), Liberty County residents will also profit from the tens of thousands of jobs analysts believe will be created with the addition of a port.
“It’ll certainly benefit all of us,” the lawmaker said. “It’ll bring jobs and improve our economic value.”
For years, the DOT has owned the nearly 1,800 acres of land on the South Carolina side of the Savannah River, using it to dump muck dredged from the river.
Jasper County officials in South Carolina have twice sought to have the land condemned to gain control of the parcel to construct a port, hoping to bring trade to the economically depressed area.
But with traffic at the Port of Savannah growing by double digits each of the past five years, Georgia officials have successfully blocked condemnation to reserve the opportunity to build its own port on the property.
Under the proposal, both states would form a bi-state port authority to jointly own, develop and operate the Jasper terminal.
Neither Perdue nor South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford gave a timeline for completion or a projected price tag for the new port.
The deal will require approval by both states’ legislatures and Congress will have to approve the final bi-state contract.
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