The Perimeter Business Association hosted a panel discussion Sept. 20 on the economic impacts of transportation in Georgia.
The panel featured Louis Miller, general aviation manager for Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, Griff Lynch, Chief Operating Officer of the Georgia Ports Authority, and Chuck Altimari, vice president of UPS.
Altimari, who is also a board member of the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts, said he believes it’s important to look at transportation from a statewide perspective. Though the Atlanta airport and the Port of Savannah may not be in the Perimeter, they still have a major affect on business locally, he said.
Altimari said the proximity of Hartsfield Jackson International Airport was a big factor in UPS’ decision to locate its corporate headquarters in the Perimeter. That access to direct flights is a big boost for the area’s economic development efforts, he said.
Lynch said the Georgia Ports Authority directly employs about 1,000 people. But according to a study from the University of Georgia, the movement of the cargo that comes through the ports creates about 350,000 jobs statewide, he said.
“We are a gateway to the entire Southeast but Atlanta is a major component of our growth. It’s very important that we rely on each other,” Lynch said.
Altimari, who moderated the discussion, said the next big transportation priority for the PBA and the PCIDs is improving the Ga. 400/I-285 interchange. He asked the other panelists how traffic around the Perimeter affects them.
Miller said better traffic flow throughout the metro region is important for the airport to run smoothly.
“We want them to be able to get to the airport as quickly as possible,” Miller said. “If they’re slowed down coming into or coming out, it impacts traffic around the airport.”
Lynch said businesses want to know that their cargo can move quickly to its destination once it is unloaded in Savannah.
“If cargo can’t move fluidly, they’re not going to come,” Lynch said.