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Jeff Whitten: A lot of millions
editor's notes

If you’re a curmudgeon like me you recognize the need for economic growth but wish the suits in charge could figure out a way to do it without all the extra traffic and people.

I know, I know. If “ifs and buts were candy and nuts we’d all have a Merry Christmas.”

And we would, too.

In the meantime, the biggest single driver of growth in the Coastal Empire is likely Savannah’s booming port. And so during the Georgia Port Authority’s “virtual state of the port” event Oct. 22 much ado was made of that fact with lots of numbers thrown in that made absolutely no sense to a layman like me. What did sink in is this is a big operation and it takes up a ton of room on dry land too.

Officials said Savannah currently has about 79 million square feet of industrial space, with another 8.7 million square feet under construction. And that’s not all. There’s another 130 million square feet of privately held space already permitted for similar development, all of it within 30 miles of the port. I.e., we’re apparently only about halfway to where these folks think we ought to be. You can argue (or not) whether that’s good for the folks already living here, but it’s kind of interesting to ponder all that could go in those 130 million square feet:

• 2,250-plus football fields. A football field is 57,600 square feet with end zones thrown in, and there’d be some leftover room for a beer joint and a couple of Jiffy Lubes.

• Or, if you’d rather have parking, the average two-car garage is about 400 square feet, according to some website out there that may be lying. My shaky math aided by the computer says you could stick 325,000 two-car garages in that 130 million square feet, enough to shelter 650,000 cars and at least temporarily ease the traffic on Highway 144.

• More than 1.45 million United States Air Force airmen between the ranks of E-1 and E-4 with less than three years of service.

Most ex Army guys know the USAF is the only service to set out in its regulations a minimum square footage in living space for its members. It’s living room based on rank, and for those aforementioned airmen it is 90 net square feet. By contrast, when I was in the Army in Germany we had eight guys living in the same broom closet, and we all had our own stereos.

As for defining net square feet, here’s how the Air Force does it, per the Air Force: “Net Square Feet or Net Square Footage in Unaccompanied Housing is calculated in accordance with DoDM 4165.63 which states: ‘The floor space in square feet within the interior face of full height walls of a room(s) with no deductions for furnishings, door swings, sinks, installed cabinets and countertops, heating and cooling system components, or exposed vertical pipes. Net SF of a bedroom does not include the area of a closet.’” That’s because that’s where marines and soldiers live.

• 726.25 Super WalMarts. Please note that would make the Coastal Empire No. 2 in Super Wallyworlds behind the state of California.

The average Super Wallyworld is about 170,000 square feet, I read somewhere. If not, it ought to be.

• 17,333 more Dollar Generals, give or take.

• 909,090 15-foot diameter trampolines, which have a square footage of 143 feet apiece. Imagine nothing but trampolines and people bouncing on them for miles and miles and miles. Kids, grannies, cocker spaniels, the works. We’d probably set a record in something. Joy, maybe. Maybe we could set them in a straight line and use them for transport to the port. Instead of semis, you could sort of bounce them over to Macon.

• Trees. They generally get my vote since I am a tree hugger and arbor day junkie, and also because many were already here and it wouldn’t take any extra work to leave them alone. Finally, speaking indirectly of trees: I conducted an unofficial squirrel census on Sunday and counted 14 before it sunk in they’re kind of hard to tell apart, so I’m not sure whether some voted twice or of the exact population on hand, but there are a lot.

I do not mind squirrels since I’ve figured out how to keep them out of the bird feeders, but it sort of occurred to me if they ever turn carnivorous and start hunting in packs I’m up a creek.

If you pick up a paper one week and I’m not here, fear the worst. The squirrels got me.

Whitten is editor of the Bryan County News.

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