Georgia leaders long argued the Canal expansion, which allows much larger generation of container ships to cut through the isthmus, holds tantalizing promise for Savannah's bustling port and the state's economy. But, as the AJC's Dan Chapman reports, the Canal's expansion could have a murkier economic impact on trade in Georgia.
"No one knows with absolute certainty what it means for Georgia and the East Coast," said Griff Lynch, incoming executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority, who's in Panama for the festivities. "But people feel confident that there will be some incremental growth to Savannah, Georgia, Atlanta and other locations in the Southeast."
"Incremental" wasn't the word used by enthusiasts in pushing the Savannah port project. They spoke instead of the canal expansion as a "game changer" that would lead to a "dramatic" increase in trade if only the Savannah River could be deepened to service larger container ships.
Gov. Nathan Deal's office, not surprisingly, favors the more sweeping language. In a statement Monday, he said the dredging of Savannah's port will increase Georgia's competitive edge as it aims for the giant ships trucking through the Canal.