Cause for Celebration

The Port of South Louisiana salutes a record-breaking fiscal year.

Instrumental changes at the Port of South Louisiana (and in the transportation industry) have resulted in record-breaking revenue—$18.1 million—during the Port’s most recent fiscal year (May 1, 2022 through April 30, 2023), representing a 3.9 percent increase over the previous year.

According to Chambrel Riley-Williams, who has worked as the chief administrative officer for the Port of South Louisiana since December 2022, within the last five years, the Port’s 2018 to 2019 revenue was the next highest at $17.4 million resulting in a 3.5 percent growth. Riley-Williams, whose role entails project management, grant management, and overseeing financial and administration policies and procedures, says that a number of factors have contributed to this significant increase in revenue.

Internal Progress

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For starters, the Port of South Louisiana hired Paul Matthews as the new executive director in January 2022. “He has implemented a culture that focuses on efficiencies, and attracting cargo and investment,” Riley-Williams said.

Secondly, a new $11.6 million, 30,000-square-foot administration building in Reserve now serves as the Port of South Louisiana’s headquarters, a move that further shows Matthews’ aim of growing the upriver industrial port complex. In fact, Matthews sees the new three-story building as the economic development center of the River Parishes. The new building now houses all of the Port of South Louisiana’s staff under one roof for the first time in history. Previously, the main administration and executive building was in LaPlace, while other positions were spread out in various buildings at the Globalplex multimodal complex in Reserve. The new building, located between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, also has meeting space available to other governmental agencies.

Furthermore, the Port of South Louisiana also recently announced a rebranding, which is another sign of the Port’s aggressive growth strategy, showing that the Port of South Louisiana is the smartest locale from which to move cargo. It includes a new catchphrase (“A Better Way to Cargo”), alongside a four-quadrant logo depicting rail, river, airways and roads.

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The new brand messaging now informs the maritime industry that the Port of South Louisiana is easily accessible via four modes of transportation that allow access to more than 60 percent of the United States and two Canadian provinces. Meanwhile, the rebranded materials also inform local, state and federal officials that the Port of South Louisiana is an undeniable driver of the regional and state economies, and that support for Port infrastructure funding will further advance industry in the River Region. Finally, the new brand also communicates the Port of South Louisiana’s economic impact on the River Region’s residents and workforce. This impact comes in the form of creating jobs, higher earnings and tax revenue, and the Port’s commitment to reinvesting in the community.

Industry Changes

The Port of South Louisiana, which is the largest in Louisiana in terms of tonnage, receives most of its volume from private companies that move oil, bulk commodities and energy products from private facilities. Last year, the Port of South Louisiana saw its first-year net tonnage increase since 2017. In fact, the Port saw almost 240 million tons of volume move through the Port in 2022 compared to about 230 million tons in 2021.

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“In 2022, the Port of South Louisiana saw an 11 percent increase on ships and vessels calling on the Port, resulting in a revenue increase of $1.673 million from April 2021 to April 2022,” Riley-Williams said. “[We also saw] a 14 percent increase in soybean and a 20 percent increase in wheat exports; and a 38 percent increase in sugar tonnage; while the construction industry, concrete and stone products saw a 111 percent increase. Animal feed-exports went up 40 percent from 5.2 million tons to 7.3 million tons, and the energy industry saw growth as it continued to fuel America and the world—a 16 percent increase in crude oil and a 15 percent increase in petrochemicals.”

For the Port of South Louisiana, revenue growth is equivalent to growth in the community. “[It] increases the tax base, creates jobs, increases the partnership with the community to support workforce development programs, protects the environment and coordinates on land-use planning to incorporate community amenities,” Riley-Williams said. “The Port plans to reinvest its profits back into the Port to support its mission of being an economic development engine for the region.”

Looking to the Future

Moving forward, the Port of South Louisiana aims to continue increasing revenue by at least two to four percent. “We have also set development goals, such as new terminals and new leases, that could potentially double Port revenues for next year,” Riley-Williams said.

Future expansion plans include the purchase and sale of the 254-acre Avondale Global Gateway, which is met with support 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.

With no public docks between the mouth of the Mississippi River and St. James Parish, companies on the West Bank often transport cargo via trains or trucks. The acquisition of Avondale Global Gateway allows companies in the area to transport cargo via water at a lower cost. As a result, the Port of South Louisiana sees this as an opportunity for more companies to relocate to the area, thereby increasing jobs and spurring additional growth. An important move for the Port, the acquisition is in alignment with its plans to expand upon its 54-mile stretch of land along the Mississippi River.


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