Georgia's deepwater ports may be a couple of hundred miles away in Savannah and Brunswick, but their impact is significantly felt in Dougherty County.
A new study by the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia Terry College of Business shows that 3,473 jobs in Dougherty County are tied to the ports.
That job total increases to 9,926 across Southwest Georgia. The other two counties in our area most impacted by the ports are Thomas and Colquitt counties.
The top port customers by volume in Dougherty County include Coats and Clark and the military, which includes Marine Corps Logistics Base and all its associated contractors.
Jeff Humphreys, Selig Center director, said Dougherty industries did $263.3 million in port business during 2011. Most of that -- $181.3 million -- was in export trade. Top exported items were pumps, grocery products and printing machinery.
Of the $81.9 million in imports, auto parts represented the biggest slice of the pie at $20.7 million. Other top imported products include staple fibers and aircraft parts.
Most of the activity is at the Savannah port, which ranked No. 2 in the country during 2011 among U.S. container ports for the export of American goods by tonnage. The Savannah port handled 12.5 percent of all U.S. containerized exports in 2011, the study shows.
The study also indicates that Georgia's ports now account for 8.3 percent of total state employment, or one out of 12 jobs.
SUMMER CONSTRUCTION: Summer is typically the busiest construction season for the Georgia Department of Transportation.
DOT officials say it's a little different this year as the warm winter allowed numerous projects to get under way as early as January.
There are just three major DOT projects in Southwest Georgia this summer.
One in Dougherty County includes demolition of the existing Broad Avenue bridge across the Flint River and construction of a new bridge.
Craig Solomon of the DOT district office in Tifton says DOT officials will be meeting with the contractor in about two weeks to discuss the project.
Other major projects in the area include the widening of U.S. Highway 27 in Clay and Early counties and the reconstruction of Interstate Highway 75 at Eldorado in Tift County.
The bridge project is expected to be completed by June 30, 2015. The U.S. Highway 27 work is expected to be finished by May 30, 2013. Completion date for the I-75 work in Tift County is Dec. 27, 2013.
CHANGES: Many changes are occurring at the local Salvation Army organization, including the appointment of a new advisory board chairman.
David Blackwell, who operates a local landscaping business (With Perfection Inc.), will be the new chairman, replacing Lem Griffin, who has been chairman for more than 10 years.
Also, Captains Douglas and Storm McClure are being transferred to Rome this month. They will be replaced by Majors Kelly and Angela English, who will take command June 20.
Danny Carter can be contacted at (229) 888-9346 or emailed at danny.carteralbanyherald.com.