Port Opens New Headquarters Building
The Port unveils its new headquarters in Reserve.
March 1st was an exciting day for the Port of South Louisiana. The Port held a ribbon cutting for its brand-new, state-of-the-art headquarters in Reserve, Louisiana. The opening of the building coincided with the Port’s rebranding plans to better spread its message to the world and highlight its position as an elite player in global shipping markets.
“We are here, we are growing, and we are open for business,” said the Port of South Louisiana’s Chief Executive Officer Paul Matthews. “It’s a new era at the Port of South Louisiana.”
The Port performed this expansion while already playing a pivotal role in global shipping. It is the nation’s leading grain exporter and the second largest port in the Western Hemisphere. It hosts companies that employ more than 86,000 Louisiana workers. Over 3,500 vessels call on the port annually for waterborne commerce. 2022 was the first time in six years the Port increased its tonnage to a total of 239,257,758 short tons compared to total of 229,797,480 short tons in 2021.
The new headquarters building is three stories tall and covers 30,000 square feet. Approximately 20,000 square feet is devoted to office space. The first floor of the building is a covered parking garage. The office areas feature many windows overlooking the Mississippi River.
“It’s a daily reminder of what we do,” Matthews said of the window views.
The new building will have a much larger conference room than the previous headquarters, as well as several more conference rooms with the space to fit large delegations of people and the technology to handle video conferencing for important parties unable to attend a meeting in person. The nicer facilities have earned positive feedback from employees so far.
“It helps with morale to be in a new state-of-the-art building,” Matthews said. “Folks wanted a building that matched the prominent place we had in the global shipping industry.”
Matthews added that the Port does not want the new building to only be used by for conferences and meetings. They also want to make the building available to any organization in the River Parishes that is looking for meeting space. The facility’s central location between Baton Rouge and New Orleans makes it a good candidate for hosting important events.
The facility cost $11.6 million to build, a significant chunk of which came from $9.6 million of funding from the state of Louisiana through Capital Outlay. Dale Hymel Jr., the port’s chief planning and project officer, supervised the project. Guy Hopkins served as contractor, and Meyer Engineers, LTD served as architect and engineer. Civil & Environmental Consulting Engineers worked as resident inspector.
The project faced some significant challenges such as Hurricane Ida, the COVID-19 pandemic, and supply chain issues. But the work got done, and it is a historic moment for the port. “This is the first time in the Port of South Louisiana’s history that the entire administrative staff will be under one roof,” Matthews said. “I am elated that the Port of South Louisiana’s fresh, modern look will no doubt make our port more attractive to foreign and domestic investment and will attract jobs for the families of the River Parishes and the state of Louisiana.”
The Port isn’t resting on its laurels when considering future expansions and improvements. In January, the Port entered into a purchase and sale agreement for the 254-acre Avondale Global Gateway. The move met with approval from local leaders.
“This acquisition of Avondale Global Gateway sets the stage for exciting new developments at the waterfront industrial park and will serve as a catalyst for new economic activity in Jefferson Parish and across our region,” Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng told WWL in January.
The acquisition is important to the West Bank because there are no public docks between the mouth of the Mississippi River and St. James Parish. As a result, industries in this area often rely on trains or trucks to transport their cargo. If these businesses are able to transport cargo by water, then they will move more goods at a lower cost.
“The most efficient way to move cargo is by water,” Matthews said.
If shipping from the West Bank becomes easier, then it increases the likelihood companies will want to relocate there and it will bring new jobs to the area. It would spur growth in what Matthews referred to as an “underdeveloped” part of the Greater New Orleans Area.
The Avondale efforts are just part of the Port’s larger hopes and plans to expand upon its 54-mile stretch of land.
“We are thinking outside of the box and we want people to be aware that we’re here and we’re growing,” Matthews said.