The Georgia Ports Authority this week elected new officers for the coming fiscal year and reported a 38 percent increase in container trade for the month of April.
Joel Wooten will serve as chairman, Kent Fountain as vice chairman, and Alec Poitevint as secretary-treasurer. “Joel Wooten’s eight-year tenure on the GPA board, as well as his leadership across business, law and education make him an excellent choice to continue guiding the ports of Savannah and Brunswick through the current phase of phenomenal growth,” said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. “Along with his fellow board members and the rest of the leadership team at GPA, I am confident Georgia’s deepwater ports are in good hands.”
Wooten and Fountain’s election represents an advancement from their previous positions of vice chairman and secretary-treasurer, respectively. Poitevint, a former GPA board chairman, was serving as a member prior to becoming the Authority’s next secretary-treasurer.
“Kent and Alec’s experience and understanding will continue to be valuable assets as we prepare to accommodate the higher volumes we expect to move in the future,” said Wooten. “As a board, we are focused on delivering a world-class customer experience, and attracting new business and jobs to Georgia.”
Wooten noted that outgoing Chairman Will McKnight presided over a period of major growth during his two years at the helm. Annual container trade has increased from 4.4 million twenty-foot equivalent container units in Fiscal Year 2020 to an expected 5.2 million TEUs by the end of FY2021 (July 1-June 30) – a new record.
“The Georgia Ports Authority, as an organization, has truly answered the call over the past two years,” said McKnight. “I could not be prouder of our employees and partners, who have done outstanding work to support the needs of the U.S. economy.”
Also at the meeting, GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch reported the Port of Savannah handled 466,633 TEUs in April, its second-busiest month on record, after March’s 498,000 TEUs. The Port of Savannah’s April container trade represented an increase of 38 percent, or more than 128,700 TEUs compared to the same month last year.
“Demand for products and services both domestically and abroad is driving significant gains in Georgia’s cargo volumes. The supply chain continues to experience unprecedented increases due to the reopening of the local, regional and national economies,” Lynch said. “We could not have achieved such phenomenal growth without the dedication of our GPA employees and the collaboration of our supply chain partners.”
The rate of growth in intermodal rail lifts at Garden City Terminal slightly outpaced overall container growth, increasing by 39 percent (13,500 lifts), for a total of 48,000 twenty- and forty-foot containers. GPA’s intermodal trade accounted for more than 87,000 TEUs in April. To handle its expanding rail trade, the GPA will complete its Mason Mega Rail Terminal this year, doubling its annual rail lift capacity to 2 million TEUs. When complete, it will be the largest on-terminal rail facility for a port in North America.
April trade in Roll-on/Roll-off cargo expanded by 50 percent (21,200 units) at the Port of Brunswick, where Colonel’s Island Terminal moved 63,440 units of cars, trucks and heavy machinery. For the fiscal year to date, Colonel’s Island has handled 570,260 units, up by 10 percent or 52,000 vehicles.
BOARD OFFICER BIOS
Joel O. Wooten is a founding member of the law firm of Butler Wooten & Peak, LLP. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Georgia in 1972, and earned a law degree from the University of Georgia in 1975. Wooten served as chair of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents from 2004-2005 and was a USG board member from 1999-2006. He has been recognized as one of Georgia Trend’s 100 Most Influential Georgians, and has been repeatedly selected as a Georgia Super Lawyer. He received the State Bar of Georgia’s Tradition of Excellence Award in 2000, the UGA Law School’s Distinguished Service Scroll in 2012, and the Amicus Curiae Award from the Supreme Court of Georgia in 2018. He and his wife, Sybrina, have five children and five grandchildren. They reside in Columbus.
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.
Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 496,700 jobs throughout the state annually and contribute $29 billion in income, $122 billion in revenue and $3.4 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy. The Port of Savannah handled 9.3 percent of total U.S. containerized cargo volume and 10.5 percent of all U.S. containerized exports in FY2020.