Director's Log

In last year’s director’s log, I predicted that 2014 would be a record-breaking year for the Port of South Louisiana insofar as the total tonnage handled by the facilities within our district. And that it was! Last year, we handled over 291 million short tons of cargo, surpassing our highest tonnage handled to date by 13 million tons. I am hopeful that 2015’s totals are aligned to follow suit. Though the oil and gas industry has taken a hit this year due to low oil prices, I would expect our tonnage to increase by at least 2% in 2015.

Once again, this has been a busy year. We attended and participated in key events: discussions regarding methanol production at the Maritime Economic Development Energy Products Seminar in Pensacola, Florida; the Cuba Hoy Conference to re-establish Louisiana’s trade ties with Cuba; the North American Strategic Infrastructure Leadership Forum in Washington D.C. as part of the Louisiana Energy and Logistics panel moderated by Congressman Charles Boustany; the U.S. Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Roundtable panel in New Orleans on the importance of port, waterway, flood control, and ecosystem restoration improvements to the nation’s economy; and the White House Business Council and Business Forward Briefing, where the topic of discussion was Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the President’s overall trade agenda. And for the first time, the Port of South Louisiana hosted the Louisiana Airport Managers and Associates (LAMA) Conference.

This year, much needed infrastructure improvements were crossed off the to-do list and we gained another vital asset. At the airport, the runway 35 threshold recover and airfield pavement rehabilitation is now complete, Jet-A fuel is now available, and the terminal building was completely renovated for the convenience and comfort of our customers. Along with these improvements, the airport received a new name: Port of South Louisiana Executive Regional Airport. On the marine operations side, a new emergency response vessel was added to its fleet, the MV Nathan Folse. A new item on the to-do list is the Globalplex Intermodal Terminal building #19 expansion project, approved by the commission in October, which will add 70,000 square feet of storage.

We are honored and proud of the recognition the Port of South Louisiana and the River Region received this year. The U.S. Department of Commerce recognized the Mississippi River industrial corridor between New Orleans and Baton Rouge as one the nation’s leading manufacturing zones, wherein the Louisiana Chemical Corridor was selected as one of the 12 manufacturing communities nationwide; Port of South Louisiana’s Foreign Trade Zone #124 was ranked as the most active by the Foreign Trade Zone Board; and our quarterly publication, the PortLog, received a Bronze Excellence in Economic Development award from the International Economic Development Council at this year’s conference in Anchorage, Alaska.

Of all that took place in 2015, we are most pleased about the economic development boom that continues to bless the Port of South Louisiana and the River Region. Both Eurochem and First Bauxite selected the River Region as the location for their new ventures, Monsanto announced a $1 billion expansion at its St. Charles Parish facility, and both Yuhuang Chemical and Pin Oak Terminals broke ground for their corresponding $1.85 billion and $750 million projects. Formosa Petrochemical Corporation announced the launch of a feasibility study for a potential $9.4 billion industrial complex in St. James Parish and the Port of South Louisiana received an Economic Development Administration (EDA) award of $250,000 for a container terminal strategic planning and marketing study.

New investment in the Port district, to date, is over $23 billion with at least 4,000 direct jobs and 8,000 indirect jobs slated to become available for area residents. We welcome any and all new projects that come our way. However, at this juncture, we as a nation must recognize the nexus between water resources development and economic prosperity. Federal investment in maritime infrastructure improvements, like maintenance of our navigation channels, is essential if we are to continue to accommodate new ventures into the region Infrastructure health is key to economic growth. In my opinion, the Mississippi River is our state’s greatest natural resource. The Port of South Louisiana vows to continue its campaign to revitalize our resources and promote capital investment for many years to come.

Paul G. Aucoin
Executive Director

 

 

Categories: Maritime