Gov. Nathan Deal, along with representatives of the Georgia Ports Authority, the Greater Hall Chamber and Norfolk Southern Railroad announced plans Monday (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 & 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.”
In conjunction with GPA’s inland terminal announcement, Auto Metal Direct, a worldwide distributor of auto body panels and trim for classic cars and trucks, announced its intent to open a new 318,000 square-foot distribution and fulfillment center. Construction will soon begin on the new home for AMD in the Gateway Industrial Centre. Upon completion, the $15 million development will bring 40 jobs to Hall County.
“Hundreds of containers each year are received by AMD, so the services provided by the Georgia Ports Authority are essential for the maintenance and growth of our business,” said AMD President Mark Headrick. “The proximity of the new inland port will be a real plus in many areas, and was an influencing factor in the eventual location of our building. Quicker service, lower cost and ease of movement should all be realized in our new location.”
“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 expansion of AMD is a testament to their efforts and will further bolster the strength of the workforce in this community. Congratulations to all of the partners involved – this new Northeast Georgia Inland Port will create exciting opportunities for this community and region.”
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 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.