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April 3--  The Port of Savannah is the fastest growing port in the United States and is on the way to doubling its capacity in the next decade.


The Toombs County Development Authority took a busload of local citizens to the port and learned that port-related jobs number 439,000 in the state and more than a thousand in Toombs County, according to Stacy Watson, the port's Director of Economic and Industrial Development.

"It means more opportunities for jobs and capital investment.  You've got a world class port right here in your backyard with very easy access to Vidalia and Toombs County and that means lots of opportunity for existing industries there to grow.  I think Vidalia and Toombs County are ready for the growth we're expecting.  You've got a great team with the Development Authority and elected officials and we look forward to a great working relationship."

The port saw an eight percent growth rate last year with 3,374 containers bringing imports to Toombs County, 75% of which went to the Tumi Distribution Center in Vidalia. 

Toombs County Development Authority Board Chairman Trent Williams worked at the port as a contractor 12 years ago and said, "I was very impressed and truly amazed at its growth.  It's great for our area.  We are 16 miles off I-16 and we have our industrial park ready to go.  What also impressed me was their plans for railroad spurs into the port."

Watson says the port is bringing CSX and Norfolk Southern rail lines onto its 1,200 acres to facilitate shipments to new inland ports in Gainesville and LaGrange.  It plans to spend $2.5 billion in the next ten years, "It is a strategy that we've maintained over many years.  You don't wait until the growth is needed to start your growth plans.  You've waited too late by then.  That's been a strategy of ours for the almost three decades I've been here.  We talk with economists, we speak with our customers, we speak with Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern.  We're out to actually predict what the future demand will be and stay ahead of that growth curve and that strategy has worked very well for us over the years."