A new Georgia-based company called PortFresh Logistics has announced plans to build a 100,000 square-foot cold treatment facility dedicated to perishable cargoes imported through the Port of Savannah. The facility, slated to open in late summer 2016, will strengthen Savannah in its role as a new entry point for South American produce.
“We are proud to welcome PortFresh Logistics to the community of service providers supporting customers at the Port of Savannah,” said Georgia Ports Authority Incoming Executive Director Griff Lynch. “Perishable foods are an important growth sector for the GPA.”
Brian Kastick, CEO of PortFresh Logistics, said the company has been working for more than two years to meet the need for additional chilled cargo infrastructure in Savannah.
“Currently, more than 90 percent of imported fruits and vegetables entering the U.S. East Coast arrive via Northeast ports,” Kastick said. “That means cargo headed to the Southeast must be trucked down, adding time and expense to the logistics supply chain.”
Thanks to a new U.S. Department of Agriculture program allowing South American citrus fruit, grapes, blueberries and other produce items to enter via the Port of Savannah, substantial cost savings are now available to customers across the Southeast and beyond.
“Using the Port of Savannah offers significant time and money savings per container for areas throughout the Southeast region,” Kastick said. “We believe the growing population of the U.S. Southeast, government policy changes, and perishable industry consolidation will break open significant pent-up demand for the new perishable supply chain gateway built around the Port of Savannah.”
PortFresh’s state-of-the-art cold storage facility, on 20 acres of an 182-acre site, is specifically designed to allow multiple climate zones. Engineered to maintain cold chain integrity, the facility will ensure delivery of the freshest and safest produce from the port to the customer.
“Our customers have found they are able to move perishable cargoes more efficiently and deliver better quality products to store shelves by using the Port of Savannah,” said Chris Logan, GPA senior director of Trade Development for beneficial cargo owner sales. “Citrus, avocados, blueberries and other products are already moving through the Port of Savannah, and we hope to grow that portfolio.”
The facility will handle both import and export cargo. The building will be located right off Interstate 16 on Old River Road in Effingham County, seven miles from Interstate 95 and 15 miles from the Port of Savannah’s Garden City Terminal.
“This project will create 40 full-time jobs when it opens in the third quarter of 2016 and more than 75 full-time jobs by the fourth year of operation,” said John Henry, CEO of the Effingham County Industrial Development Authority. “It will also help Effingham County open a new section of the Coastline site (160+ acres) to the market and it will create an immediate attraction for other companies on the site adjacent to Interstate 16.”
Henry said PortFresh Logistics will contribute $1.5 million annually in local taxes and nearly $5 million total in local, state and payroll taxes. The development has been made possible, in part, by a $400,000 OneGeorgia grant to the Effingham IDA to help cover the cost of laying water and sewer lines to the area of the site. OneGeorgia Equity seeks to fund projects which increase capacity and economic vitality in rural Georgia. This program is administered by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
“We are pleased that the OneGeorgia Equity grant can help play a part in providing needed infrastructure for PortFresh Logistics. We are excited about the jobs this project will bring to the area and, with its proximity to the Port of Savannah that all Georgians will benefit from the availability of fresher produce” said DCA Commissioner Camila Knowles.