Relocating to Savannah

straight talk

Home Up

The Creative Coast Alliance

the hub for innovation


Savannah Development & Renewal Authority

the downtown business recruiter and facilitator


Savannah Economic Development Authority

the large industry recruiter


To the Point Answers to Questions Most Frequently Asked about Savannah

Quality of Life Lots of folks are moving to Savannah - the theme of "quality of life" is heard in the conversations of many who elect to live in Savannah.  The barrier islands of the coast, the historic district and its squares, the small town convenience, the climate, the beauty of the live oaks green all winter, the airport convenience for escape, all add up to the opportunity for a lifestyle that is exceptional and clearly slower than in the major cities of our country.  That is why people move to Savannah or stay after being in the military or in college here.
Schools Savannah and Chatham County have a consolidated school system that has struggled to attract white kids since the imposition of forced integration.  Something like 25% of the students continue to attend private and parochial schools established during "integration".  Public schools are, never the less, a practical alternative because one needs only three good schools, an elementary school, a middle school and a high school.  Attendance zones are highly flexible so take time to visit the most highly regarded public schools.  Twelve years at a private school can add up to $250,000+ of after-tax cash better used for a college education.  Public schools here graduate students who succeed at major universities around the country; ask for a list.  Don't assume that all private schools perform at a higher level than do some of the public schools. HOPE scholarships are a major benefit for parents of Georgia students.
Universities Armstrong (AASU) provides an excellent faculty and educational opportunity for undergraduates in liberal arts and science; it has a major emphasis on health professions.  Georgia Southern University in Statesboro is a one hour commute and they have some night classes at the Center for Continuing Education on M.L. King Street in Savannah.  Savannah Technical College is an important resource for job training and they also provide ESL training.  SCAD's target market is the parent of a creative student who want to get their kid off of their own payroll and into a job; SCAD has moderate success at that.  AASU and GSU course are free for residents over 62 years of ages (as long as the class is not full).
Economy Savannah's economy has no one dominant sector. The port (#3 container port on the East Coast), the military, basic manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, regional retail and tourism provide the base of jobs in Savannah.  Unfortunately many large locally owned businesses have been acquired and their HQs have been lost.  Hospitals and government are the largest employers.  Gulfstream is the anomaly - a large manufacturer of an world class product.  Colonial Oil (see below) is much larger than most people realize.
Climate Savannah has the same climate as North Florida as evidenced by the native vegetation (e.g. palm trees) that live along the coast.  If you want to see snow you may have to wait 10 years and then you will have about 45 minutes before it melts.  Houseplants can survive outside through many winters.  When the orange groves in Florida freeze it is freezing here too.  Ocean temperatures, which can get up to 85 degrees lag the air temperature on the way up and down.  Temperature on Tybee are about six degrees cooler in summer and warmer in winter than in downtown Savannah.
Downtown Broughton Street (main street) has gone from vacant to almost full in the last 10 years thanks to the efforts of volunteer-led SDRA (link above)- over $200 million of private investment has been attracted for downtown revitalization.  Parking is THE big issue holding back further progress; a new major construction project near city market will add a net of 500 new spaces - not nearly enough.  Downtown is the entertainment district for the city and is busy at all hours. 
Housing Housing is changing in many directions and neighborhoods.  New construction and condo conversions are active around the historic district.  New communities are being built on the western and southern edges of Chatham County - west of the airport and west of Hunter AAF.  New lofts in the Starland District have been sold out pre-completion.  Areas of the Victorian District, Baldwin Park and Parkside have seen major renovation.  SCAD students are important tenants for intown areas.  There may be a buyer's market at the Landings on Skidaway as the earlier retirees now need to sell and move to transitional housing.  Condo conversions are going crazy downtown - there just might be excess inventory.



As in many cities, the loss of corporate headquarters has had an impact on Savannah’s leadership capacity


 Major Corporate Headquarters Remaining in Savannah

Colonial Group: Colonial Oil Industries (incl Enmark Stations) –Demere Family; revenue $4.5 billion

Memorial Health University Medical Center Revenue $447 million in 2004

Citi Trends – previously Savannah Wholesale (Yellin, Bono Families) public company Revenue $381 million in 2007

St. Joseph’s - Candler Hospital Revenue $328 million in 2005

Savannah College of Art & Design Revenue in 2005 $166 million

JC Lewis Companies – J.C. Lewis, WJCL sold in 1999

Morris Multi-Media Inc. – Charles Morris

Brasseler USA 

Dixie Plywood – Dan & Waldo Bradley Families

Vaden Dealerships - Dan Vaden family

Melaver Inc. - real estate development & prop. mgt. - Melaver family



Local HQ Companies Acquired and Lost from Savannah

2006 Derst Baking – Ed Derst acquired by Flowers Industries

2006 Friedman’s Jewelers (Public on NASDAQ) moved HQ to Dallas

2006 Savannah Electric & Power HQ in Sav. closed and assumed by Ga. Power/ Southern Co.

2005 Palmer & Cay – John E. Cay III  acquired by Wachovia Bank

2003 South University – John South sold to Education Management Corp

2003 Intermarine USA (absentee owner Bernie Ebbers) Acquired by Palmer Johnson

2002 HO Systems (Tom H. Lee Funds) Acquired by VeriSign

1999 Union Camp (secondary HQ) Acquired by International Paper – moved staff to Memphis

1998 Kuhlman Corp. (Bob Jepson and others) Acquired by Borg-Warner

1998 Chatham Steel Corp. (Tenenbaum Family) Acquired by Reliance Steel & Alum

1997 Savannah Foods & Industries (Sprague, Oxnard and others; a public company) Acquired by Imperial Holly

1965 Carson Products (Minis Family) Acquired by L’Oreal

1993 Solomons Co. (Solomons Family) Acquired by Cardinal Health

1993 Jones Hill & Mercer Insurance (Jack Jones) by HRH Insurance

1991 C & S Bank (almost HQ – home of Mills B. Lane) Acquired by NationsBank

1989 Great Southern Federal S&L  taken over by FDIC

1988 Savannah Electric & Power Co. Acquired by Southern Co.  now renamed Georgia Power Company

1988 Johnson Lane Space Smith & Co. Merged with Interstate Securities

1986 Builderama  (Don Kole)

1985 Gulfstream Aerospace (Alan Paulson) Acquired first by Chrysler then by General Dynamics; Revenue $3.4 billion in 2005 - the most significant manufacturer now in Savannah

1985 M&M Supermarkets (Melaver Family) Acquired by Kroger

1985 Savannah Bank & Trust Co. Acquired by Georgia Railroad, then First Union Bank, now Wachovia

1960 Savannah News-Press Acquired by Billy Morris of Augusta, now Morris Communications

       Savannah Foundry & Machine Co.; Ductile Iron Co. of America (Neil Mingledorff)







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