The Savannah MSA’s manufacturing firms created approximately 15% of the area’s economic output as measured by GDP, accounting for $3.2 billion of output in 2020. As of mid-2021, the number of manufacturing establishments in the Savannah CSA was 401 firms employing 22,926 workers with average weekly wage of $1,495.
Manufacturers in the Savannah MSA gained approximately 300 workers (1.7%) during 2021. A review of recent announcements from headlining companies in the sector point toward a strong year in 2022. The manufacturing workforce was 17,800 at the end of 2021 and is expected to add about 500 workers in 2022.
Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation is the largest private employer in Savannah with a global workforce of 15,000+ workers in production, service, maintenance, engineering, and research and development. In 2021, Gulfstream has seen increased interest in its products and services and announced the addition of two new models in 2021, the G400 and the G800. The company has continued to optimize its customer service and support network by expanding or building new facilities in Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and the UK and announcing the planned addition of a new sustainable service center in Mesa, Arizona. Production and deliveries are expected to increase into 2022, and as the global economy recovers, efficiency gains continue.
Flight-testing of the Gulfstream’s flagship G700 continued through 2021, with six planes in the test fleet. The G700, which the company anticipates customer deliveries beginning in the fourth quarter of 2022, will feature the tallest, widest, and longest cabin in the industry with leading range and speed capabilities. More than 80% of all G700 flight tests have been conducted using sustainable aviation fuel and the first fully outfitted production-test aircraft set speed records to/from Savannah and Europe and the Middle East. In 2021, Gulfstream became the first business aircraft manufacturer to sign the World Economic Forum’s Clean Skies for Tomorrow 2030 Ambition Statement. The new G400 aircraft is the first new entrant into the large-cabin class in more than a decade and the new G800 is the fastest longest- range aircraft in Gulfstream history. In 2021, the company also delivered several special mission aircraft to countries around the world including the Israeli Air Force to enhance their mission-critical surveillance operations and also the
U.S. Air Force, which will use the aircraft for executive transport.
JCB experienced a large increase in demand for its machinery this year with orders increasing more than 50% above pre-pandemic levels. In September the company reported that some of its products such as diggers, tractors and forklifts are sold out for the next twelve months even though the company expects to produce approximately 110,000
machines this year. This spike in demand has largely come from an increase in infrastructure spending by governments. With a workforce of approximately 800 employees, the Pooler facility hosts manufacturing operations and the offices of the company’s North American headquarters.
The Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA) continues to work with its partners at the state and local level to attract new job opportunities and investment to Chatham County. 2021 proved to be a record-setting year for SEDA. As of December 2021, SEDA helped facilitate 1,870 new job opportunities and $784 million in investment for the year, the highest investment announced in SEDA’s recorded history. SEDA also recorded the highest number of prospect visits and new projects in the organization’s history.
With great collaboration between the four counties in the Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor Joint Development Authority (JDA), consisting of Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham and Effingham counties, and the State of Georgia, the region was able to purchase the Bryan County Mega Site. This 2,284 acre site offers land for 2.6 million square feet of industrial development, rail service, and immediate access to interstates 16 and 95 and the Port of Savannah. The Bryan County Mega Site is the largest strategic site purchase in state history.
In moves that support the region’s manufacturing base, World Trade Center Savannah hosted 15 Global Education Programs with more than 320 registrants in 2021. With travel restrictions easing in 2021, World Trade Center Savannah was able to attend two international trade missions to Ireland and hosted seven inbound delegations.
Savannah and SEDA also received notable accolades in 2021. Savannah was named the #1 Top Metro by Total Projects and by Projects per Capita by Site Selection magazine. Savannah was also earned the fifth spot in the Top 25 Americas Cities of the Future 2021/2022 for FDI Strategy by fDi Intelligence. And lastly, SEDA was awarded the 2021 McKinley “Mac” Conway Award for Excellence in Economic Development for the third year in a row by Site Selection magazine.
In Bryan County, AGCO, a Duluth, Ga. based company, began construction in the Interstate Centre industrial park in Ellabell on a 75,000 square foot expandable assembly center for their Massey Ferguson line of tractors. The facility is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2022. The project represents a capital investment of over $8 million, and the company will employ 31 within three years. Additionally, the Development Authority of Bryan County extended road, water, and sewer infrastructure to serve additional property in Interstate Centre II.
Bulloch County manufacturing employment was approximately 1,960 in mid-2021, a 9% increase from 2020. The Highway 67 widening project is in its final phase of completion and will provide four-lane access from I-16 to Statesboro to enhance access between the Savannah MSA and Bulloch County. This, along with the launching of the near-by JDA mega site, has contributed to increased industrial recruitment activity in the county. Cardinal Glass purchased the former Viracon Architectural Glass manufacturing facility.
Effingham County’s manufacturing employment held steady at 1,700 persons. Effingham County experienced a significant uptick in new project inquiries in 2021, which increased by more than 50 percent over 2020. The number of site visits in 2021 nearly doubled, and the majority of new project activity came from the manufacturing sector. As operations returned to normal in 2021, many industries are finding it difficult to fill vacant positions. The county’s Industrial Development Authority has been working with existing industries, educational institutions, and regional economic development partners to create a multi-faceted approach to ease the effects of the ongoing labor shortage. An example of this effort include working with the Effingham College & Career Academy to execute the first ever Workforce PhD program, which is designed to help graduating high school students develop job-seeking and soft skills and provide an inside look at potential employers.
Liberty County manufacturers employ about 2,000 workers. The county’s largest employer, SNF Corporation employs approximately 1,500 persons and is the second largest manufacturing employer in the seven-county Savannah
combined statistical area. The county’s development authority completed a major infrastructure project in 2021 with the construction of a new 500,000 gallon elevated water tank in Tradeport East Business Center. This $2.4 million project is the second tank in Tradeport East and was constructed to serve future development in the park. Further, the tank was put into use immediately to serve a new 1.4 million square foot building completed by Savafieh at the end of 2021. 800,000 square feet has already been occupied by Hooker Furnishings creating over 50 jobs with expectations for more hiring in the future.