GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, along with representatives of the Georgia Ports Authority, the Greater Hall Chamber and Norfolk Southern Railroad announced plans on Dec. 3 to make Hall County the site of the GPA’s next inland port.
“The Northeast Georgia Inland Port will be situated in the heart of the manufacturing and logistics corridor along Interstate 85, an important region for the production of heavy equipment, food and forest products,” Deal said. “Besides serving these existing port customers, it will also act as an economic development tool, drawing new investment from business and industry to Hall and its surrounding counties.”
Handling both import and export containers at the Gainesville terminal, Norfolk Southern will provide service on a direct rail route to and from the Port of Savannah’s Garden City Terminal.
“Savannah is a rapidly growing gateway for global commerce, and Hall County and the surrounding region in Northeast Georgia are key areas of expansion in the state. Manufacturers and distributors around the globe continue to set their sights on this region for development,” said Norfolk Southern’s Jeff Heller, vice president intermodal and automotive. “Georgia Ports Authority’s inland port at Gainesville, combined with Norfolk Southern’s rail service, will provide crucial links in the supply chains of local industries, consumers, and the rest of the world, and serve as a catalyst for new opportunities for industrial development. Norfolk Southern is pleased to partner with the GPA on this important project.”
Port officials say improved access to rail will increase logistics options and overall efficiency, while reducing congestion on Georgia highways.
Presently, containers moving by truck travel a 600-mile roundtrip to and from the Port of Savannah. When the new rail yard opens, drivers will be able to make shorter trips from area manufacturers and distribution facilities to the Northeast Georgia site.
“Our new Gainesville location is part of our Network Georgia initiative, which provides new and existing port customers with additional logistics options,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “The new rail hub will allow importers and exporters to move loaded containers to the coast with greater efficiency, and provide a ready source of empty containers for Georgia exports.”
GPA Board Chairman Jimmy Allgood said the new choice in cargo handling will transform the local rail market, helping port customers optimize their supply chains.
“Our inland terminals are bringing our ports and producers closer together, providing new economic opportunities,” Allgood said. “That’s good news for Georgians, who will benefit from increased employment options as more companies expand or locate here. Georgia Ports already support more than 440,000 jobs across every corner of the state.”
Located in the Gateway Industrial Centre on GA 365, the new 104-acre terminal will provide logistics solutions for customers across Northeast Georgia. The facility’s services will draw from the 1.5-million population in Hall, Gwinnett and surrounding counties.
“The business world is getting closer to Northeast Georgia. The new inland port terminal will shorten the supply chain for many manufacturers, processors and distributors in the region,” said Tim Evans, vice president of economic development for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. “Accessing the container port by rail can save time and money, because rail deliveries to and from the Port of Savannah can shorten truck delivery times from approximately seven hours to less than 30 minutes. Direct access to the Port of Savannah, the fastest growing container port in the U.S., is an innovation in logistics infrastructure that provides many of our existing businesses a competitive advantage.”
“For many years Georgia poultry producers have reached customers all over the world through the Port of Savannah which currently ranks as the number one export facility for poultry products in the nation,” said Mike Giles, president of the Georgia Poultry Federation.
“Because our poultry producers are relatively close to the port, the Georgia poultry industry enjoys a competitive advantage when it comes to delivering our chicken products to overseas customers efficiently and in a cost-effective manner,” Giles added. “The Georgia Ports Authority has done an outstanding job over the years of investing in infrastructure which has improved the level of service for poultry shipments through Savannah, and this new inland rail yard is a continuation of that type of investment in the future connectivity between the Georgia poultry industry and our customers worldwide.”
“The Georgia Ports Authority continues to be a fantastic economic development partner and an incredible catalyst for growth in our state. Not only have the ports positioned us as a global leader in terms of logistics infrastructure, but they have been a critical piece of the puzzle in terms of locating new projects and existing industry expansions across the state,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson.
The Northeast Georgia Inland Port is the second Network Georgia-related announcement this year. The GPA held a grand opening for the Appalachian Regional Port on Aug. 22 just north of Chatsworth, Ga., on a 42-acre site in Murray County.
The Hall County inland terminal is scheduled to be complete in 2021. At full build-out, it will have the capacity to handle up to 150,000 containers per year.
More information about the Georgia Ports Authority can be obtained at www.gaports.com.