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Ports board elects Gainesville's Walters as chairman
Jim Walters
Jim Walters

Gainesville businessman Jim Walters has been elected chairman of the Georgia Ports Authority’s Board of Directors, the agency announced Monday.

Appointed by the governor, board members manage the operation of Georgia’s ports.

“It’s an exciting time to be the chairman of the group,” Walters said. “We have the third-busiest port in the country now ... and we want to continue that.”

Walters is a board member of two years, formerly serving as vice chairman, before being elected chairman by his peers.

Robert Jepson, his predecessor, said he is confident in Walters’ abilities.

“If we didn’t expect him to do a great job, we would not have elected him, I assure you,” Jepson said. “There are many capable men and women siting around that table — we have 13 members — and Jim was the chosen one. He, in the short time he’s been there, has made a significant contribution. He just has those leadership qualities that just bring people to him.”

Walters will assume his position July 1, with the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project starting his term. SHEP will allow Savannah’s port to be deepened by 5 feet, making room for larger ships.

“This is something that’s been worked on for 16 years and we finally have it put together,” Walters said. “It’s very important to commerce and the economic engine in Georgia to have that port (be) a viable one.”

This past May is recorded as the port’s most profitable month since 1945, Jepson said. He said he expects that success will continue with Walters.

“I’m thrilled that Jim has been selected to head the board. He is taking over at a very opportune time. Things could not be better.”