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  February 20th, 2015 | Written by

Georgia Roots For Business

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Thiele Kaolin Co. is drawn to the Peach State for an obvious reason—the signature Georgia clay—but other attributes make the major kaolin clay processor even more at home on Georgia soil.

“Our mineral is in Georgia and you’ve got to be where your resource is,” says Randy Mayberry, Thiele Kaolin’s director of International Sales. “But that’s not all. We’ve just got wonderful logistics infrastructure here in Georgia.

“We’ve got good access to global transportation, plus good rail and road transportation, which make it easy to get our product to anywhere they coat paper or paperboard,” says Mayberry, noting that the Sandersville, Ga.-based firm’s shipments head throughout Asia, with India and Europe being particularly dynamic markets.

Like logistics leaders of many Georgia-based exporters and importers, Mayberry believes the $706 million deepening of the Port of Savannah’s harbor to 47 feet from its present 42 feet under a federal-state partnership will be a further boost.

“The dredging of the Savannah River is going to benefit us tremendously and keep us competitive with the best port facilities in the world,” Mayberry says.

The Georgia Ports Authority’s (GPA) Port of Savannah already ranks No. 4 in containerized cargo volume among all North American ports and, with 7.1 percent growth from 2003 to 2013, is the hemisphere’s fastest-growing containerport. Meanwhile, the GPA’s specialized Port of Brunswick ranks among the top three U.S. ports for handling imports and exports of automobiles.

From a rail standpoint, Atlanta is the largest intermodal hub in the Southeast, while Georgia’s six interstate highways connect the state to 80 percent of the U.S. population within a two-day truck drive.

For air cargo, the state’s Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is among the 10 largest air-cargo hubs in North America.
More than 14 million square feet of warehouse and distribution facilities are within a 2 1/2-hour drive of the Port of Savannah. Statewide, companies with more than 3 million square feet of such space include Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (5,975,000 square feet), Target Corp. (5 million), Calhoun, Ga.-based flooring manufacturer Mohawk Industries Inc. (4,390,000), Lowe’s Cos. (3,941,000), suburban Atlanta-based The Home Depot Inc. (3,937,590) and Dalton, Ga.-based carpet maker Shaw Industries Group Inc. (3,040,000).

State officials point to factors such as Georgia’s cost-competitive climate for business, with its 6 percent corporate income tax based on single-factor sales; reasonable industrial lease rates ranging from $2.49 per square foot in the Augusta area to $3.92 per square foot in greater Atlanta; and industrial vacancy rates as high as 14.4 percent in the Savannah area. Also, Georgia’s workforce turnover rate in transportation and warehousing is 6.6 percent, lowest among all U.S. South states. The Georgia Quick Start workforce development program consistently ranks No. 1 in the nation among initiatives of its kind.

“Georgia’s unique corner store location makes it a perfect place for businesses to call home,” says Page Siplon, executive director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics. “The state’s uniquely complete logistics infrastructure from sea to air and road to rail positions it ahead of all others.”