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Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and officials from the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) and Cordele Intermodal Services (CIS) signed an agreement yesterday to establish an inland port near CIS' privately owned and operated rail ramp in Cordele, Ga.Designed to create or expand international markets for regional businesses, the Cordele Inland Port ensures a direct 200-mile rail route to and from GPA's Garden City Terminal in Savannah, state and GPA officials said in a press release. The facility also will provide direct container rail service to and from the Port of Brunswick. The inland port aims to serve as a gateway to southwest Georgia and adjacent regions in Florida and Alabama, they said."By more efficiently connecting businesses in this region to the global marketplace through our deepwater ports, the Cordele Inland Port is now part of that broader effort, supporting jobs and future development," said Deal.The inland port offers a viable intermodal option to an all-truck-dray to the deepwater port of Savannah, state and GPA officials said. The inland port is located on 40 acres in the Crisp County Industrial Park and is designed to be expanded up to 1,200 acres. The facility is less than one mile from Interstate 75 and Georgia highways 300 and 280. "This new partnership provides our customers direct access to 38 weekly shipping services, connecting the region to vibrant global export markets," said GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz.CIS' facility is served by the Heart of Georgia Railroad, which interchanges with CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway. More balanced import-export container trade allows for an efficient use of transportation resources, said CIS President Jonathan Lafevers. "Large shippers in Albany and Tifton, Ga., Montgomery and Mobile, Ala., and Tallahassee, Fla., will benefit from our services," he said. "The inland port concept has also generated tremendous interest in the Cordele area from shippers and other logistics-based companies looking to relocate near our facility."