Gainesville businessman Jim Walters was re-elected Monday as chairman of the board of directors for the Georgia Ports Authority.
He’s spent the past year in that role, after being appointed to the board by Gov. Nathan Deal in 2012. He previously served as vice chairman.
“It’s been an exciting year,” he said. “I look forward to another big year.”
Walters said the port had a record year, with revenue up about 15-16 percent over the year before.
“So we’re probably looking at some substantial growth,” he said. “And one of the reasons we have this growth is we continue to invest in infrastructure.”
The port is preparing for dredging as part of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project that will deepen the harbor, thereby allowing more cargo to move through the port.
“At a time of unprecedented growth and the start of construction for the deepening project, Jim’s continued, steady leadership sends a strong message to those who choose Georgia as their gateway to global commerce,” Gov. Nathan Deal said in a news release. “Business leaders can be comfortable with Jim’s background in economic development, coupled with a strong vision for the future of Georgia’s ports.”
Walters said dredging of the outer harbor “should start any time.”
Walters said the Savannah port also offers the best turnaround service on the East Coast. The port also benefited this year from a strike on the West Coast that backed up ships.
“Those shippers who anticipated those problems diverted their ships to us,” he said.
“We expect to, because of the service we rendered, keep some of those customers.”
Other re-elections on the board included James L. “Jimmy” Allgood continuing in his role as vice chairman and A.J. “Joe” Hopkins III continuing as secretary/treasurer.