Container ports on the Southeast Coast of the United States are investing billions of dollars in a competition to handle the next generation of container ships. For all the ports, Far Eastern import cargo is the prize.
The ports are all competing for federal, state and local funds. Economic forecasts and political strength are both important.
In the region, Savannah, GA has a 60% share of the Far Eastern import trade. Combined with Charleston, SC the two ports handle 82% of this cargo. Overall, they are growing rapidly. They are likely to be out of capacity in about 10 years.
Looking beyond 10 years, Georgia and South Carolina, which have one state port each, are dropping requests for federal funding, and plan to jointly build an entirely new, $5 Billion container port on the Savannah River. They’ll use only state funds. Their goal is to protect their regional market share well beyond 2040.
There are 14 Florida ports, so state support is fragmented. Florida ports have lost market share for the last 20 years. They are seeking for funds for dredging, hoping to be able to compete.
The stakes are high. All of the ports are competing for new jobs. Billons are being invested. Not everyone will win. Here’s the question, if you were the governor of GA, SC or FL, or on a local Port Authority Board of Directors and were faced with this tough investment decision, what would you do?
Dale Lewis earned an M.S. in Transportation from M.I.T. in 1995. While a graduate student, he focused on how major shippers make mode and routing choices for goods imported into the U.S.
After M.I.T., he served for 20 years in a variety of roles at CSX Transportation, a major intermodal, rail and trucking company. (VP Finance, AVP Labor Relations, AVP Trucking, Director of Economic Analysis, Director of Strategic Analysis)
Mr. Lewis will address the port-expansion question from the perspective of a Finance VP asked to invest in a high-cost, high-risk, potentially high-reward supply-chain project, surrounded by complicated political issues and supported by optimistic economic forecasts.