ST. SIMONS ISLAND — The Port of Savannah posted a record February for the number of cargo containers it moved last month, which also was one of the strongest months ever for automobile imports coming into Brunswick, the Georgia Ports Authority reported Monday.
Curtis Foltz, the executive director of Georgia's ports, ran down the numbers at the Ports Authority board's meeting on St. Simons Island. Foltz said the shipping business is getting a boost from retailers restocking their inventories to meet growing demand from consumers.
The Savannah port, the fourth busiest U.S. container port, handled 1.79 million cargo containers last month — the most imports and exports it's ever moved in February and an increase of 16 percent over the same month last year.
"That's an extremely high volume for February," said Foltz, who predicts the Savannah port will end its fiscal year June 30 with container volume up by 10 to 12 percent.
The Brunswick port also had a busy month handling 40,734 automobiles imported by manufacturers such as Hyundai, Mercedes and BMW. Foltz said that's one of the best months for autos that Brunswick has ever seen, marking an increase of nearly 79 percent over February 2010.
Alec Poitevint, the Ports Authority chairman, said Savannah's port growth underscores the need to deepen the city's harbor to accommodate larger cargo ships — especially to ensure Georgia can export more goods such as wood pulp, clay and carpet.
"To make sure our economy recovers and sustains itself, we have to have those exports," Poitevint said.