Savannah’s Port Continues Driving Billions in Investment Dollars
By: Charles Sells
Between 2006 and 2020, the Georgia Port Authority’s operations in Savannah, Georgia, increased in container volume by more than 200 percent. In 2021, that number is projected to skyrocket even higher, bringing with it billions more dollars in investments into the Savannah economy. One of the biggest needs in Savannah and the surrounding area is, not surprisingly, housing for the many employees in this recession-resistant industry.
While many industries struggled due to economic lockdowns during the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic, shipping, logistics, manufacturing, and trucking all boomed. Like many sectors, however, these businesses did suffer due to a dearth of employees. Thanks to Georgia’s business-friendly policies and established port systems of both “wet” and “dry” ports that help keep products moving through the system and into the southeast and beyond, the Savannah area has experienced relatively fewer of these troubles than other ports elsewhere in the country. There is also still room in the extended metro area to build, creating opportunities for new residents to (eventually) either own or rent single-family homes. This is particularly important to many moving into the area in order to work in port-related businesses since concerns about the pandemic (potentially shifting to an “endemic” at this point) continue.
“We are sitting in a beautiful place, and there is still land,” said Port City Logistics CEO Eric Howell recently in an interview with the Savannah Morning News. He observed that his company is running evening and weekend hauls out of ports, which means they need more employees for these extended shifts and hours. At present, local unemployment in the area is just 3.4 percent, around or below pre-pandemic levels. Howell added, “Economists right now are saying this thing is not going to slow down until at least 2023,” and noted that his company alone is hoping to add another 100 people by March of next year. The company is hoping to attract workers by offering on-the-job training and education, pay hikes upon certification, and additional hourly pay incentives for workers who meet goals for longevity at work and completing tasks “quickly and safely.”
In the Savannah area, real estate investors are hard-pressed to find investment projects unless they are working with established businesses in the area simply because the availability of discounted properties is low. Furthermore, many projects are delayed due to permitting and inspection problems, which companies like ours may be able to circumnavigate due to familiarity with the process and many of the individuals operating in important positions. With more and more businesses and jobs coming into the Savannah area, the local real estate market still has a lot of upward momentum and potential.