Despite difficult budget times, our Georgia lawmakers are almost certain to allocate $32 million to deepen the Savannah River and allow the Port at Savannah to be able to accommodate larger ships when the Panama Canal completes its expansion in 2014.
When the Panama Canal is expanded, it will allow container ships three times larger to move up and down the U.S. East Coast. Savannah’s port must be deepened to accommodate these vessels or they will move on to another port.
It’s imperative that our lawmakers fund this Savannah project. It may be the most important economic development project in our state.
During budget hearings before lawmakers in Atlanta, Chris Cummiskey, head of the state’s Department of Economic Development, said, “The Georgia Ports are essential ... when you talk about the three things or four things that drive companies here, the ports are always one, two or three every single time.”
Just like Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport helps the entire state, so do the ports in both Savannah and Brunswick.
For decades our citizens and some of our lawmakers have harped about two Georgias — the metro Atlanta area and north Georgia, then the rest of the state. That mentality has changed somewhat, but it needs to change more.
Atlanta is an economic engine that benefits the entire state. It takes funding to keep those benefits alive and well. Savannah is an economic engine that also benefits all of Georgia. We must deepen the channel and allow this fast-growing port to be able to accommodate the larger ships and increased cargo that will be coming this way. The money spent will benefit all of Georgia.