Dignitaries, including Gov. Nathan Deal, right, watch the hoisting of the ceremonial first container from a train onto a truck at the Appalachian Regional Port in Crandall, Ga., on Wednesday August 22, 2018. The Georgia Ports Authority’s new inland port is expected to handle 50,000 containers a year and potentially double that capacity in the next 10 years. J. SCOTT TRUBEY/STRUBEY@AJC.COM
The inland port is about 10 miles south of the Tennessee line and about 20 miles northeast of Dalton, known as the “Carpet Capital of the World. Textile giants such as Shaw Industries and Mohawk, as well as Volkswagen and its suppliers are expected to be some of the major customers.
Gov. Nathan Deal said Georgia trades with 225 countries and territories worldwide, creating a nearly $130 billion economic impact.
“If you don’t think that’s significant, this is going to give you a chance to not only add to that number, but to get a bigger share of the pie,” he said.
Asked if he was concerned intensifying trade disputes between the U.S. and its global trading partners, Deal said he had concerns, but he said President Donald Trump is attempting to level the international playing field and ensure “fair trade.”
The ports authority reported its second highest monthly container volume in July, posting 12.7 percent growth compared to the same month a year ago.
To respond to growth, the ports have been on a building binge, starting a new $126.7 million rail hub near the Savannah terminal in March. The Army Corps of Engineers is working on a nearly $1 billion deepening of the Savannah River to help ensure larger vessels can navigate the channel with greater flexibility.
Roberto Eggeling, vice president of logistics, production control and program planning for Volkswagen Group of America, said he expects VW and its suppliers will use the inland port, which will give the plants greater flexibility in their respective supply chains.
U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, said the ports authority’s infrastructure investment is warranted because of the region’s booming economy.
“Manufacturing is robust, investment is here and this region is alive and it’s thriving,” he said.
The Murray County Industrial Development Authority, which acquired a nearly 400-acre tract earlier this year, has two projects related to the port could be announced in the coming months.