Louisiana Upgrades Important Port

The Port of South Louisiana on the Mississippi River is a global shipping center and a cornerstone of the state’s economy. With its planned enhancements, it can only get better.

Louisiana’s five deepwater port districts along the Mississippi River comprise the world’s largest port complex, handling 485 million tons of cargo per year and shipping nearly 25% of all waterborne commerce in the United States. As the largest tonnage port in the western hemisphere and fifth largest in the world, the Port of South Louisiana is the crux of the state’s maritime industry, stretching 54 miles along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge and accounting for more than half of all of Louisiana’s imports and exports. The port’s headquarters is located in LaPlace, LA, midway between its end points.

In February, Joel Chaisson, executive director of the Port of South Louisiana, outlined the port’s top infrastructure and expansion projects for 2008 and the next several years. Completing these projects is crucial to meeting short-term customer demand as well as for continued growth of the port, which encompasses the Louisiana parishes of St. Charles,
St. John, and St. James.


Population (2006): 4,287,768

Largest Cities (2006): New Orleans, 223,388; Baton Rouge, 229,553; Shreveport, 200,199; Lafayette, 114,214; Lake Charles, 70,224

Targeted Industries: Advanced materials, Construction, Information Technology,  Durable Goods/Manufacturing, Energy, Oil and Gas, Entertainment, Life Sciences

Key Incentives: Quality Jobs Program, Industrial Tax Exemption Program, Small Business Loan Program, Industry Assistance Program, Tax Equalization Program

The existing general cargo dock will receive a couple of enhancements; the access bridge, which connects to the cargo dock, will be reinforced to accommodate heavier truckloads; and a finger pier extension will be added to the cargo dock to allow direct barge-to-ship loading and unloading of goods.

Construction at the 50-foot deep Globalplex Intermodal Terminal, one of the port’s largest terminals, will include a new dock; an on-dock transit shed will meet additional commodity storage and handling demand from customers in the nearby industrial park. Land-based upgrades are also part of the port’s 2008 plans. These include a new railroad spur and improvements to the roadways to enhance transportation in and out of Globalplex.

In St. Charles Parish, a new general cargo dock will be built to attract industrial development on the west bank of the Mississippi River. Also, the entire Port of South Louisiana will receive cutting-edge technology to improve the surveillance and communication of its security system.

To further bolster safety, port employees with unescorted access to secure port facilities and vessels have begun enrolling in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Worker Identification Credential program. This involves a thorough criminal background check to reduce the risk of security threats. More than 75 U.S. ports have begun enrolling in the program.

Louisiana’s economic development secretary, Stephen Moret, who met with port officials in February, is impressed by the detailed improvement plans. Moret told officials that the state’s ports are very important to Governor Bobby Jindal and are a major priority for the state’s economic growth.

The Port of South Louisiana employs more than 60 workers and is a Foreign-Trade Zone. Its major inbound cargo shipments include crude oil, chemicals, fertilizers, petrochemicals, steel products, concrete/stone products, ores/phosphate rock, wood/wood chips, edible oils, and coal/lignite/coke. Outbound cargo includes animal feed, wheat, soybeans, coal/lignite/coke, maize, petrochemicals, rice, chemicals, fertilizers, edible oils, and crude oil.

The maritime industry in Louisiana supports 270,000 direct and indirect jobs, meaning one in every eight jobs is connected to the industry. It has a $33 billion impact on the state’s economy annually, equaling approximately 23% of the gross state product.

The Ports Association of Louisiana, a nonprofit organization founded in 1984 to aid in the advancement of the state’s ports and economic development, has more than 30 member ports.

Louisiana’s Ports Statistics

• Six deep water ports

• 14 inland river ports

• 10 coastal oil/gas service ports

• 83% of shipping occurs at deep water ports

• Handle 20% of all U.S. waterborne commerce

• Handle 485 million tons of cargo per year

• Handle 200 million tons of foreign trade cargo

• Over 6,500 ships transport goods internationally

• Transport 20% of U.S. petroleum products

• Export 53% of U.S. grains

• Have a $33 billion impact on the Louisiana economy

• Comprise 23% of gross state product

• Support 270,000 direct and indirect jobs

Source: Ports Association of Louisiana