For many, the name Savannah evokes images of moss-draped oaks and historic cobblestone streets. Yet beneath this picturesque Southern charm lies another reality altogether: the city's role as one of the most important logistics and distribution centers in international trade. Several factors contribute to Savannah’s rise as a global logistics hub.


Geographic Location

Founded in 1733, Savannah has long been deeply intertwined with trade and logistics. Nestled on the Savannah River, just a stone's throw from the Atlantic Ocean, Savannah's Port offers direct access to international waters, making it a linchpin for global shipping routes. This geographic advantage has made it a key port for trading activities from the cotton era to the modern age of container shipping.

This strategic position is strengthened by its proximity to major U.S. markets and infrastructure networks, which enable swift and seamless connections between land and sea. The city serves as a gateway not only to the Southeast but to the heart of the U.S., with 65 percent of the population reachable within a two-day drive.

Port Capacity and Infrastructure

The Port of Savannah, operated by the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA), is home to the largest single-terminal container facility of its kind in North America and is one of the busiest container gateways in the nation. The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP), which was completed in 2022, deepened the Savannah Harbor from a depth of 42 feet to 47 feet and extended the entrance channel by 7 miles. It also deepened the outer harbor for approximately 18.5 miles into the Atlantic Ocean. This deepening allows larger, more efficient container vessels access to the Port.


The Port itself is also undergoing a significant expansion to increase its container capacity by 60 percent. The goal is to increase annual capacity from 6 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) to 9.5 million TEUs by 2025. This expansion is mirrored by considerable growth in both warehouse space and workforce.

Other initiatives include the Mason Mega Rail Terminal, which aims to enhance intermodal service capacity and provide more efficient access to inland markets while reducing traffic congestion and emissions. The project will link two on-dock rail yards served by CSX and Norfolk Southern, expanding the Port of Savannah’s rail lift capacity from 500,000 to more than 2 million TEUs per year. 

The GPA is also focusing on infrastructure improvements to accommodate larger vessels and increase operational capacity. For example, the Garden City Terminal has been expanded to handle seven ships simultaneously, including four vessels of 16,000+ TEUs. The Ocean Terminal is undergoing renovations to serve two large container ships at the same time, offering a 2 million TEU annual capacity​.

On top of it all, the Savannah industrial market is booming, with demand driving the construction of multiple distribution centers. The near-port development in Savannah accounts for 11 million square feet of speculative industrial space, despite a nationwide slowdown in speculative building​.


Innovative Services and Logistics Excellence 

Another key asset reinforcing Savannah’s role in global trade is the Savannah Logistics Innovation Center. Designed to bolster the capabilities of companies within the region’s premier logistics sector, this Center aims to enhance supply chain efficiencies, spur growth, and elevate the global competitiveness of businesses by linking them with expert technical guidance, research opportunities, and valuable partnerships. It serves as a unique resource for businesses engaged in shipping to or from Georgia, as well as those considering establishing their operations within the state.

The Center helps companies in three key areas:

  1. Logistics Optimization: It focuses on improving both the entry and exit logistics for Georgia-based companies, aiming to cut down on logistics costs.
  2. Workforce Development: It facilitates connections between logistics employers and the state’s educational and training resources.
  3. Technology Enhancement: It supports the adoption of new logistics technologies by fostering collaborations on innovative solutions and sharing best practices.

Boosting Intranational Trade: The Mid-American Arc Initiative 

Although Savannah is making significant inroads and investments in global trade, it doesn’t mean they’ve taken their eye off markets closer to home.

Following the Panama Canal's expansion, the spotlight shifted towards the Midwest as a crucial area for logistics and trade. In response, the Georgia Ports Authority launched the Mid-American Arc initiative to enhance intermodal rail services and extend the Port of Savannah's influence across key inland markets, from Atlanta to Memphis, Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, and into the Ohio Valley.

A key component of this effort is the Port of Savannah International Multi-Modal Connector, a $128 million investment designed to significantly boost the Port's rail capacity. By connecting the Garden City Terminal's two rail yards, this project is set to streamline operations, double the terminal's capacity to handle around 1 million containers annually and establish the Port of Savannah as the home of the largest on-port rail facility in the Eastern United States. 

The Impact of Savannah’s Growth

Savannah's expanding role in international trade has far-reaching implications beyond the immediate benefits to businesses involved in global commerce. The growth has spurred broader economic development and job creation across the region, significantly impacting the local and state economies.

The long-term impact of Savannah's growth in international trade is a more robust, diversified economy capable of weathering economic downturns. As the Port continues to expand its capacity and capabilities, Savannah is set to remain a vital player in the global logistics and trade arena, promising continued economic prosperity and job opportunities for its residents.

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The Future Looks Bright

Savannah has emerged as a pivotal hub for international cargo forwarding, and that trend is only expected to continue. Its advantageous coastal location, comprehensive infrastructure, and diverse industrial base make it an ideal choice for companies looking to enhance their logistics and supply chain operations. And the ongoing investments in its transportation infrastructure underscore Savannah’s commitment to remaining a global trade powerhouse.

With more than 40 shared space distribution and fulfillment centers encompassing over 3 million square feet of enclosed warehousing services space throughout the U.S., Averitt is no stranger to Savannah – we’ve been helping customers quickly and efficiently ship their freight from, to, or through the city for years.

Our PortSide Distribution and Fulfillment Center in Savannah features 80,000 sq. ft of enclosed cargo management space and over 23,000 sq. ft of cross-docking services and pool distribution space. With our own fleet of chassis to provide drayage services and one of the nation's strongest LTL and Truckload distribution networks, we can help you streamline your inbound cargo supply chain through the Port of Savannah with ease.

Our presence and experience in the area mean we’re well-equipped to navigate its logistics landscape, helping businesses leverage Savannah’s strategic position for their shipping needs.

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At Averitt, we’re always finding new ways to optimize supply chains, from identifying growing markets to offering an ever-growing list of services. If you’d like to learn more about putting our experience and expertise to work for your business, contact us today!

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