Port excited about ‘dynamite’ prospects

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 26, 2006


Managing Editor

LAPLACE — The Port of South Louisiana’s economic development office under Linda Prudhomme is getting a lot of post-Katrina attention. Port Executive Director Joel Chaisson said on Wednesday, &#8220We’ve got some very hot prospects, even a couple which, if we get them, would be dynamite.”

Chaisson, Prudhomme and commission president Joey Murray have been globe-trotting in the past several months, from Venezuela to Germany to Montreal, Canada, getting the Port of South Louisiana’s name into the marketplace. The response has amazed even Chaisson.

&#8220We’ve never seen such interest in the port,” Chaisson told the port commission.

Chaisson was not at liberty to name names, but he is hopeful some of the prospects for new industries and major commercial concerns come to pass in the River Parishes.

In other activity at Wednesday’s port commission, Chaisson reported that Baumer Foods is in the midst of bringing in equipment at their new Reserve headquarters, with plans to open their operations this fall.

Also, the Port is considering making their relationship with the American Red Cross a permanent one. After Katrina, a vacant building was used as a regional Red Cross operations center. Most of that building is now being taken over by Baumer Foods, and Chaisson said there is consideration to build a new permanent facility on the Globalplex site for the Red Cross.

In the area of port security, a joint security agreement among five deepwater Louisiana ports is nearing final signatures, Chaisson said. In addition, a joint agreement with the three local sheriffs for additional security at port facilities is under development. So far, St. John Sheriff Wayne L. Jones has already agreed to the plan, while St. James Sheriff Willy Martin Jr. and St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne are still reviewing the plan.

In addition, a proposal has come from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to make available a real-time satellite view of Mississippi River activity.

Also during the meeting, the port commission approved supporting the application of Candies Shipbuilders for a subzone of the Port’s Foreign Trade Zone No. 124, which is one of the largest in the nation.

Also, engineering services for repairs to the Kinder Morgan bulk dock at Globalplex was approved. Damage was caused by the sudden weight vibrations from loading and unloading operations by the large cranes to the dock itself.

More work is being done to repair the badly-damaged docks at Bayou Steel, which was found to be worse than first believed after sandblasting revealed more damages.

An anticipated $628,000 in additional costs was mentioned, and an additional 102 days was approved for the repair project by the commissioners.

The port commission also approved a new hurricane preparedness and recovery plan, aimed at education, response and recovery.

Finally, the commission approved entering into an intergovernmental agreement with St. John Parish to help develop expansion at the St. John Airport in Reserve.

The plan calls for three new large hangers on a five-acre site, depending upon the airport’s ability to lengthen their runway.