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Hazlehurst Native Is Chair of Ports Authority

Monday, the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) board elected new officers for the coming fiscal year and reported a 38 percent increase in container trade for the April.
Hazlehurst native and Jeff Davis High School graduate Joel Wooten will serve as chairman, Kent Fountain as vice chairman, and Alec Poitevint as secretary-treasurer.
“Joel Wooten’s eight-year tenure on the GPA board, as well as his leadership across business, law and education make him an excellent choice to continue guiding the ports of Savannah and Brunswick through the current phase of phenomenal growth,” said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. “Along with his fellow board members and the rest of the leadership team at GPA, I am confident Georgia’s deepwater ports are in good hands.”
Wooten and Fountain’s election represents an advancement from their previous positions of vice chairman and secretary-treasurer, respectively.
“Kent and Alec’s experience and understanding will continue to be valuable assets as we prepare to accommodate the higher volumes we expect to move in the future,” said Wooten. “As a board, we are focused on delivering a world-class customer experience, and attracting new business and jobs to Georgia.”
Wooten noted that outgoing Chairman Will McKnight presided over a period of major growth during his two years at the helm. Annual container trade has increased from 4.4 million 20-foot equivalent container units in Fiscal Year 2020 to an expected 5.2 million TEUs by the end of FY2021 (July 1-June 30) – a new record.
Also at the meeting, GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch reported the Port of Savannah handled 466,633 TEUs in April, its second-busiest month on record, after March’s 498,000 TEUs. The Port of Savannah’s April container trade represented an increase of 38 percent, or more than 128,700 TEUs compared to the same month last year.
Wooten is a founding member of the law firm of Butler Wooten & Peak, LLP. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Georgia in 1972, and earned a law degree from the University of Georgia in 1975. Wooten served as chair of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents from 2004-2005 and was a USG board member from 1999-2006. He has been recognized as one of Georgia Trend’s 100 Most Influential Georgians, and has been repeatedly selected as a Georgia Super Lawyer. He received the State Bar of Georgia’s Tradition of Excellence Award in 2000, the UGA Law School’s Distinguished Service Scroll in 2012, and the Amicus Curiae Award from the Supreme Court of Georgia in 2018.
He and his wife, Sybrina, have five children and five grandchildren. They reside in Columbus.

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