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Savannah, Ga. – June 23, 2014 – The Board of Directors of the Georgia Ports Authority today elected James A. Walters of Gainesville to serve as chairman.

“Jim’s background in business and economic development make him a strong choice to lead the GPA,” said outgoing Chairman Robert Jepson. “His steady demeanor and strong vision for the future will help Georgia Ports continue on its mission to create new jobs and opportunity for Georgia.”

Appointed to the GPA board by Gov. Nathan Deal in 2012, Walters previously served as vice chairman. The new vice chairman will be James L. “Jimmy” Allgood, while A.J. “Joe” Hopkins III will serve as secretary/treasurer.

“This is an exciting time to serve as chairman of the GPA, a vital business asset for the state,” Walters said. “Important opportunities lie ahead in economic development and improving our maritime infrastructure.”

Walters noted that Georgia’s positive business environment has fueled a tide of recent announcements in manufacturing and logistics. “The role of our deepwater ports – supporting trade while helping to lure new investment – will only be strengthened as the Savannah Harbor is expanded to better accommodate today’s larger vessels,” he said. “These more efficient ships will bring down the cost of exporting American-made goods, and bolster Savannah’s power to deliver jobs and development across the Southeast.”

“During my two years as chairman, our primary focus was seeing the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project through to final authorization,” Jepson said. “I am confident that with Jim’s leadership, we will quickly move forward with the construction and completion of this critical project.”

In other business, GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz reported on the authority’s May performance – the strongest month ever recorded in GPA’s 69-year history for the movement of containers and total tonnage.

“Georgia’s success bringing new manufacturers and distribution centers to the state, along with increased demand in the fast-growing Southeastern U.S., has fueled impressive growth at the Ports of Savannah and Brunswick,” Foltz said.

Twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) handled at Savannah’s container terminal rose by 11.1 percent or 28,916 TEUs compared to May 2013, for a total of 290,436 TEUs in the month just ended.

Meanwhile, breakbulk cargo saw a gain of 11 percent in May, growing by 26,483 tons to reach 266,734 tons. Brunswick’s dedicated auto and machinery port and Savannah’s Ocean Terminal combined to move 64,097 units – the third highest total on record. GPA auto and machinery cargo improved by 7.2 percent or 4,289 units on the month.

Total tonnage for May was up 10.5 percent or 251,000 tons to reach 2.63 million tons, also a new GPA record for monthly volume.

Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 352,000 jobs throughout the state annually and contribute $18.5 billion in income, $66.9 billion in revenue and $2.5 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy. The Port of Savannah handled 8 percent of the U.S. containerized cargo volume and 10.9 percent of all U.S. containerized exports in FY2013. Check out GPA’s Youtube channel here. Find print-quality images of port operations here.


Chairman James A. Walters. Walters is the president of Walters Management Co., a financial services company which operates in Georgia, Tennessee and Texas. He is a former director of First National Bank of Gainesville and its holding company, First National Bancorp. After the sale of First National to Regions Bank, Walters continued to serve as an advisory board member of Regions Bank of Gainesville. He currently serves as chairman of the board of Chattahoochee Bank of Georgia, a Gainesville, Ga.-based bank he helped found. Walters sits on the boards of Northeast Georgia Medical Center Foundation, James A. Walters YMCA, Elachee Nature Center, and the Texas Consumer Finance Association, and is a past president and current director of the Georgia Industrial Loan Association.  He is secretary to the Board of Trustees of Brenau University and is on the President’s Advisory Committee of Gainesville State College. Walters attended North Carolina State University. He and his wife, Peggy, have two daughters, five granddaughters, and one great grandson. They reside in Gainesville.

Vice Chairman James L. “Jimmy” Allgood. Allgood is chairman of the Board of Allgood Pest Solutions, a company he started in 1974. He was chairman of the Structural Pest Control Commission for 20 years and is past president of the Georgia Pest Control Association. He has served as chairman of the Dublin-Laurens County Development Authority, the Dublin Rotary Club, and the First United Methodist Church board. Allgood earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia, was a member of the Leadership Georgia Class of 1993, and was president of Leadership Georgia in 1996. He and his wife, Kathy, have three children and two grandchildren. They reside in Dublin.

Secretary/Treasurer A.J. “Joe” Hopkins. Hopkins serves as director of Hopkins-Gowen Oil Company,  president of Toledo Manufacturing Company, director of Southeastern Bank, and as a partner in Gowen Timber Company. He earned a law degree from Mercer University before going into private practice from 1977-1988. He is a former president of the Georgia Forestry Association, and current president of the Forest Landowners Association. Hopkins has served as a member of the Joint Georgia House and Senate Future of Forest Study Committee; as a member of the Coastal Georgia Comprehensive Development Plan; and the First Congressional District Representative to the state Department of Community Affairs Board.  He currently serves on the Suwanee-Satilla Regional Water Council.

For additional information, please contact GPA’s Senior Director of Corporate Communications Robert Morris at (912) 964-3855. Visit the GPA web site at