Originally created 04/28/04

2 ports bring in billions to state



BRUNSWICK, Ga. - Multiply by seven the $5.1 billion the 1996 Olympics dumped in Georgia's economic coffers between 1989 and 1997, and you'll have the impact Georgia's two deepwater ports had on the state's economy in fiscal year 2003, according to a study by the University of Georgia.

The report, which looked at Georgia Ports Authority facilities in Savannah and Brunswick, was co-authored by Jeffrey M. Humphreys, the director of the Selig Center for Economic Growth at UGA's Terry College of Business, and Barbara Bart, the director of Savannah State University's Survey Research Center. A $33,000 grant from the ports authority funded the research.

According to the study, released Monday, the two ports directly and indirectly supported 275,968 jobs and were responsible for $35.4 billion in sales, $10.8 billion in income and $1.4 billion in state and local taxes from July 1, 2002, to June 30, 2003.

The figures surprised even ports authority Executive Director Doug Marchand.

"Quite frankly, we expected the economic impact to be strong, but we didn't realize the numbers would be this good," he said.

Mr. Marchand credited the Legislature's continued willingness to fund infrastructure improvements and new technology at the ports - even in tough economic times - with giving GPA a leg up on the competition.

One of the fastest-growing container ports in the country, the ports authority finished fiscal year 2003 with more than 1.5 million containers moved, representing growth of 31.5 percent for the year and 56 percent in the past three years.

Double-digit growth has continued into FY 2004, with March the latest month to post increases over the year before.