Joint recruitment efforts by the Port of South Louisiana and state agencies like Louisiana Economic Development have resulted in numerous new businesses setting up operations along the Mississippi River, and high-paying jobs for the skilled workforce of the region.

No matter the time of day, time of month or time of year, economic activity within the 54-mile stretch of river that is the Port of South Louisiana never sleeps.

The same is true of efforts to bring economic activity to the Port District. That doesn’t stop, either, as government agencies like Louisiana Economic Development constantly team with Port officials to entice domestic and international industry heavyweights in various sectors — agricultural, energy, chemical and manufacturing, to name a few — to relocate operations or expand their global footprint by setting up shop right here in the River Parishes.

Most only see the final result of those efforts — a press release, a write-up in the local paper or in Port Log. But make no mistake: It takes long-term, multi-faceted and sophisticated recruitment to reach that finality.

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“Nothing happens overnight,” says Linda Prudhomme, the Director of Business Development at the Port. “These are years in the making. These are billion-dollar investments, so they aren’t necessarily quick decisions.”

When it comes to attracting new business, the Port of South Louisiana has several positive aspects that are included in pretty much every pitch. For starters? Location, location, location.

Situated on the Mississippi River, the Port has direct access to the heart of the United States and vital international markets. From there, the Port’s multi-faceted transportation infrastructure makes receiving raw materials or transporting completed product possible by waterway, rail, highway, air or pipeline.

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Handling/Refining/Manufacturing that material is a highly-skilled, highly-trained and highly-technical workforce with a decades-long reputation of providing an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. Couple all of that with a state that affords companies competitive business costs through financial incentive programs, and it’s little wonder why the Port of South Louisiana has enjoyed rapid economic growth since the turn of the century.

“I really consider the River to be this state’s greatest natural resource, and maybe our country’s greatest natural resource,” says Paul Aucoin, the Executive Director of the Port of South Louisiana. “And despite all our growth, we still have great site availability. There’s property available, desirable property in the River Parishes with access to cheap and abundant natural gas, which is the feedstock for many of these companies. And then you have a productive workforce.

“Together, all these things help you feel comfortable when you’re making an investment in the billions of dollars.”

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While the benefits and advantages of locating inside the Port District are numerous and undeniable, the companies already here and those considering coming here are diverse in operation. With that establishment, the Port and state/local agencies spend extensive workhours tailoring proposals to the specific prospect.

“We always determine what (the potential client) needs as they consider the Port,” Prudhomme says. “Do we have the right site? Do we have deep water for a deep-water dock? Do we have sites with pipeline access that can carry the raw materials needed, such as maybe natural gas, to make their final product?…There’s so much to consider, so may variables.

“And it’s not a one-man operation. It really isn’t,” Prudhomme continues. “It’s a team effort, and we team with LED and local economic developers in our Port parishes in making sure there’s an answer and a solution to all the logistics before anyone even comes to visit a site.”

In fact, the Port is using modern technology to expedite the site-seeing process. Instead of traveling miles on the River to visit five to eight potential sites, the Port allows clients to digitally tour the prospective sites through a computer program at the Maritime Security Operations Center that virtually drops them there and affords them 360-degree views of the area — thus allowing clients to quickly trim the site list before actually traveling there.

Combined recruiting efforts between the state and the Port have resulted in substantial economic developments. In November 2018, Wanhua Chemical Group officially announced the company will build a $1.25 billion chemical manufacturing complex in St. James Parish that will result in 170 new direct jobs, with an average annual salary of more than $80,000 plus benefits. A few months before that, Formosa finalized a massive agreement to build a $9.4 billion chemical manufacturing complex on a 2,400-site on the west bank of St. James that will employ 1,200 plant workers.



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