Savannah Morning News publishes 4 part investigation of cruise ship pros and cons

Congrats to Lesley Conn and Mary Landers on their mega investigation today in the SMN of the pros and cons of cruise ships in Savannah.

From the centerpiece story, FOUR-PART SPECIAL: A Savannah cruise port –– easy money or easy mark?:

Are these cities making easy money, as supporters say? Or are they, as critics claim, easy marks for a cruise industry that powers its way into waterfront communities with promises of generous tourist spending and job creation that seldom match projections and often come with economic, environmental and even cultural consequences cities seldom foresee?

Mayor Edna Jackson, then an alderwoman, sat in on some of the initial 2010 conferences as consultants offered glowing projections of Savannah’s cruise potential. The chance for economic development and job growth was a big sell.

“You could increase tourism, you could have jobs, even if they are entry-level, and our businesses might resupply a ship coming in,” she said. “That’s dollar generation. That’s job generation.”

Her initial enthusiasm has been tempered by the need to see the next study and discuss with City Council about how long it would take for a terminal to be self-sustaining financially, what the positives and negatives are and what it would mean to harbor deepening and container traffic already flowing on the Savannah River.

As I’ve noted before, I suspect the studies now underway will point to myriad problems with ships competing for time and space in the long channel with the growing cargo traffic, including the liquefied natural gas shipments that pretty much shut things down when a ship is present.

In the piece linked above, experts with no skin in the game express extreme skepticism of some rosy economic projections that have already been made by BEA Architects of Miami, which is the firm doing the study and which also might be the firm that would design an eventual terminal. Yes, you read that right, we’re going to get a study that’s going to seem biased from the outset.

The lead article links to the others in the special reporting, including one on some apparently shoddy work already done by BEA.

I’m sure we’ll be hearing much more about his in the coming weeks and months. I’ll be chiming in as news compels.