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Research Highlights

In matters related to regionalism, the community's efforts have generally resulted in mixed results in measures characterizing economic activity, environmental quality and transportation.


The regionalism indicators are the Coastal Empire Coincident Economic Index, solid waste recycling per person, air quality, use of alternative transportation, public transportation ridership, and average commute time. A strong regional economy, interwoven with an efficient transportation network and a healthy environment are essential to the quality of life for the area's citizens.


Regional economic activity is measured by the Coastal Empire Coincident Economic Index. In the first quarter of 2013, the economy held steady, but remains on pace to register about 2% growth through 2013. The underlying fundamentals of the regional economy in overall employment, port activity, manufacturing and tourism are strong, while the housing market is showing increasing strength. 


The region's environmental quality is characterized by recycling activity and air quality. Air quality decreased somewhat from 2011 to 2012, but remains better than elsewhere in Georgia.  Recycling in the city of Savannah increased on a per person basis, reaching nearly 100 pounds per person. Private sector recycling activity is likely increasing alongside municipal recycling as the desire for recycling in underserved areas strengthens. However, data from private recycling businesses is not available.  


There are mixed signals from the region’s transportation indicators. Among alternative forms of transportation, carpooling and walking declined, while bicycling and use of public transportation increased. Chatham Area Transit ridership increased on a per person and per mile basis in 2012, as compared to 2011.  Commute time to work increased slightly but remains nearly 20% shorter than the state average.


• The Coastal Empire coincident economic index increased by 1.9% on an over-the-year basis, rising to 158.0 in the first quarter of 2013.


• In 2012, 99.4 pounds of waste per person was recycled, an increase of 21% from the previous year.


• In 2012, the percent of ‘Good’ air quality days in Savannah decreased to 62.3% from 64.1% (2011).  Georgia also experienced a decline in the percent of ‘Good’ air quality days in 2012 (48.9%) from 2011 (51.2%).


• Alternative transportation was used by 15% of the commuters in Chatham County in 2011, and the county out performs the state level of 14.6%.


• Carpooling and walking decreased from 2010 to 2011, while bicycling and use of public transportation increased.


• Public transportation usage increased by 4.9% from 2011 to 2012; at the same time, the number of bus riders per mile driven increased from 1.37 (2011) to 1.46 (2012).


• Commute time in Chatham County rose to 22.1 minutes from 2010 to 2011.  Georgia commute time was little changed between 2010 (27.0 minutes) and 2011 (27.1 minutes).