Above: The Port of Savannah’s Garden City Terminal is adding four ship-to-shore cranes this year and four in 2018 for a total of 30. Photo by Stephen B. Morton, Georgia Ports Authority

Imports from Israel into the Port of Savannah are rising steadily.

ZIM America, an Israeli-owned international shipping company, operates out of the Port of Savannah in coordination with the Georgia Ports Authority. ZIM was the fifth-largest container carrier for the Georgia Ports Authority during 2015. ZIM handled 315,792 TEUs (20-foot-equivalent units, the measure of the capacity of a container ship) and accounted for 8.4 percent of total Georgia Ports Authority business.

Griff Lynch, the current chief operating officer and incoming executive director at the Ports Authority, said ZIM’s relationship with the Port of Savannah dates back as far as 1972. In the past 20 years, ZIM’s volume at the Port of Savannah grew nearly 190 percent, a 5.5 percent compound annual growth rate.

That growth continues. In 2015, the trade grew 23 percent as exports increased 22 percent (28,895 TEUs) while imports increased 24 percent (30,200 TEUs).

ZIM was also the first carrier to call on the Port of Savannah’s Garden City Terminal with a vessel over 10,000-TEU capacity in March 2015.

Because of its relationship with the state of Israel, the Georgia Ports Authority is receiving the Eagle Star U.S. Company of the Year Award for demonstrating a sustained commitment to a strategic partnership with Israel.

The Georgia Ports Authority encourages international shipping business by working with a broad coalition of business leaders, economic development teams, chambers of commerce and elected officials to enable opportunities for growth.

The authority extends the reach of domestic industries to international markets, from Volkswagens built in Chattanooga to the farm and forest products grown in Georgia.

On the horizon is the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. By deepening the Savannah River to 47 feet at average low water, SHEP will enable the port to more efficiently serve the larger vessels expected to call in greater numbers after the expansion of the Panama Canal. Vessels in this class, which are already calling on Savannah, will be able to do so with heavier loads and greater scheduling flexibility once the deepening is complete.

The Ports Authority this year is purchasing four new ship-to-shore cranes for Savannah, which will bring the total number of electric-powered container cranes to 26, the most of any single terminal in the United States.

On the ground, the Ports Authority opened a $27 million project featuring a multilane truck gate to help Savannah’s Garden City Terminal avoid congestion while completing 10,000 truck moves per day. Next up, the Georgia Department of Transportation is opening the Jimmy Deloach Parkway extension before the summer to provide a direct truck route between Interstate 95 and Garden City Terminal.

These reliable, cost-effective transportation solutions create momentum for Georgia’s ports to become load centers for trade in the entire Southeast and beyond.

Savannah has been the fastest-growing major U.S. port for a decade, and there’s no slowing down in sight. As ship sizes grow and SHEP takes advantage of the Panama Canal expansion, industry running through Savannah is expected to double in size. The Georgia Ports Authority will be there to make it happen.