The Georgia Ports Authority board has elected new officers for the coming fiscal year.
Starting July 1, Kent Fountain will serve as chairman, Alec Poitevint as vice chairman, and Chris Womack as secretary-treasurer.
“Kent’s four-year tenure on the GPA board, as well as his leadership across business and agriculture make him a solid choice to continue guiding the ports of Savannah and Brunswick through the current phase of infrastructure growth,” said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. “Along with his fellow officers, board members, and the GPA leadership team, Georgia’s deepwater ports remain in good hands.”
Fountain and Poitevint’s election represents an advancement from their previous positions of vice chairman and secretary-treasurer, respectively. Poitevint served as GPA board chairman from July 2010 to June 2012. Womack was serving as a board member prior to becoming the Authority’s next secretary-treasurer.
“At the Georgia Ports Authority, a central part of our mission is to strengthen industries and sustain our communities,” said Fountain. “While the global economy is rebalancing from the recent spike in demand, now is the perfect time to grow our terminal capacity, so that we can continue to serve as a gateway for prosperity.”
Fountain noted that outgoing Chairman Joel Wooten presided over the board during a period of historic capacity expansion. Since Wooten became chairman in July 2021, the board has approved nearly $1.5 billion in infrastructure projects. The improvements will add 3 million twenty-foot equivalent container units of annual capacity at the Port of Savannah, for a new total of more than 9 million TEUs by 2026.
“I am extremely proud of our board’s accomplishments, providing GPA employees with the tools they need to continue supporting Georgia and the nation’s economy for decades to come,” Wooten said. “The Georgia Ports Authority is well positioned to take on the new and expanding business that will mean jobs and opportunity for our fellow Georgians.”
In other business, GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch updated the board on several capacity-enhancing infrastructure projects, including:
- Container Berth 1 will provide another big ship berth, allowing Garden City Terminal to simultaneously serve seven ships, including four vessels with a capacity of 16,000+ TEUs. Renovations to Container Berth 1 will increase annual berth capacity by 1.5 million TEUs. The project is scheduled for completion in July 2023.
- In tandem with the expanded berth, GPA has ordered eight new ship-to-shore cranes. The first four arrived in February and will be operational in July; the next four arrive in August and will be operational by December.
- The Garden City Terminal West expansion will add 1 million TEUs of annual capacity. Supported by 15 electric rubber-tired gantry cranes, the 100-acre site will be complete in phases in 2023 and 2024.
- GPA is expanding its container operation at the Port of Savannah’s Ocean Terminal to take in the entire 200-acre facility. Berth and container yard renovations will allow Ocean Terminal to serve two big ships simultaneously and expand the terminal’s annual capacity to 2 million TEUs. Eight additional cranes have been ordered as part of the project. Renovations to the first berth will be completed in 2025, with the second completed in 2026.
- At Garden City Terminal, the 300,000 square-foot Savannah Transload Facility will move goods from containers to over-the-road trailers for delivery. The STF includes a yard with three container stacks and nine rubber-tired gantry cranes, providing an annual capacity of 500,000 TEUs. Scheduled for completion in August 2023, the warehouse will be operated by a third-party logistics provider.
- At the Port of Brunswick, construction has started on 350,000 square feet of near-dock warehousing that will serve auto and machinery processing at Colonel’s Island Terminal. Three additional buildings totaling 290,000 square feet and 122 acres of Roll-on/Roll-off cargo storage space are under construction on the south side of the island. The two near-dock warehouses and the three buildings on the south side of Colonel’s Island Terminal start coming online in August 2023. The additional acreage will increase Brunswick’s Roll-on/Roll-off capacity from 1.2 million to 1.4 million vehicles per year.
BOARD OFFICER BIOS
Kent Fountain serves as the President & CEO of Southeastern Gin & Peanut, Inc. in Surrency. Fountain attended the University of Georgia where he obtained a degree in Agricultural Economics. In 1995, Fountain began Southeastern Gin, Inc. and in 2004 built a peanut buying point, and the firm became Southeastern Gin & Peanut, Inc. In 2015, Fountain was instrumental in starting Premium Peanut, LLC, where he currently serves as Chairman. The recipient of numerous awards, Fountain received the Southeastern Ginner of the Year award in 2001 and the Horace Hayden National Ginner of the Year award in 2016. He and his wife, Missi, live in Screven and have two sons attending the University of Georgia.
Alec Poitevint is the chairman and president of Southeastern Minerals, Inc. and its affiliated companies headquartered in Bainbridge. Poitevint is a past chairman of Georgia Ports Authority, having previously served the Authority from 2007-2016. He is also a former president, vice-chairman and director of First Port City Bank of Bainbridge. He is past chairman of the American Feed Industry Association and National Feed Ingredients Association. He serves as a director of the Georgia Agribusiness Council and was Federal Commissioner of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) Water Compact. Poitevint was a former mission member of the U.S. Agricultural Trade and Development Mission to Europe in 1990 and U.S. Delegate to the World Food Summit in 2002.
Chris Womack is the president and CEO-elect of Southern Company, one of the nation’s leading energy providers serving 9 million customers. Prior to his current role, since 2021 he served as chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power, leading Southern Company’s largest subsidiary. He assumed leadership of Georgia Power after serving as executive vice president and president of external affairs for Southern Company where he led overall external positioning and branding efforts including the company’s public policy strategies and oversaw the company’s governmental and regulatory affairs, corporate communication initiatives and other external and strategic business engagements. Prior to joining Southern Company, Womack worked on Capitol Hill for the U.S. House of Representatives. He is co-chair of the Edison Electric Institute Customer Solutions Policy Committee and a member of the board of directors of Invesco Ltd.