GLOBALPLEX TURNS 25

Recently, the Port of South Louisiana held a celebration for the milestone anniversary of Globalplex, honoring the rich history of the complex and the people and projects that made it what it is today.

Globalplex 1992

 

Like a fine wine, Globalplex just gets better with age.

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Even though its Silver Anniversary has officially concluded —capped with a well-attended party earlier this year —Globalplex owned by the Port continues to stand as a shinning and shimmering beacon for maritime commerce.

Coast Guard Capt. Richard Clements (Ret.) was the Port Executive Director at the time of purchase, and was the leading advocate for the purchase and redevelopment of the Godchaux Henderson Refinery site. Purchased for the bargain price of $12.5 million, Clements oversaw the initial general cargo dock construction and the public-private redevelopment of the bulk dock for Holnam Cement at the approximate cost of $30 million.

As it did when it opened in 1992, the Globalplex Terminal functions as the industrial heartbeat of the Port District, pumping cargo in and out of the region. Former Port Director Gary LaGrange, who took the position in 1996, said the facility was a catalyst for the Port’s economic development and growth.

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“It was going to be—and still is—the first and only public dock owned by the Port for flex-use business, so anybody can charter the dock then load and unload their cargo,” said LaGrange.

Today, there are more than 300 employees working daily, where shippers are offered services like automated and general cargo unloading, ocean container stuffing, container-to-barge transfers and transloading of bulk products.

That commercial versatility validates Globalplex’s well-earned reputation as one of the premier maritime industrial park facilities anywhere along the Mississippi River. And like the parents of a child who notches their height in the wall each birthday, those who’ve been around since Globalplex’s infancy remain astonished on how much it has grown to accommodate the needs of a growing marketplace.

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“Globalplex just keeps getting better,” said current Port Executive Director Paul Aucoin. “The goal at Globalplex, since Day One, is to stay competitive. To better serve the client. To create jobs. Over the years, each Port Director has done what it takes to keep Globalplex competitive, so they all played a part in the success of this facility.”

Globalplex is located on what used to be the old, historic Godchaux-Henderson sugar refinery and was constructed to meet the business needs of shippers and manufacturers. Almost immediately upon purchase, the Port began to address the site’s infrastructure to make it appealing for tenants and went about expanding Globalplex’s footprint by purchasing neighboring acreage. Even though Globalplex is extremely developed today, it still purposely contains 130 unused acres for future projects.

“It was a natural purchase,” said former Port Director Joe Accardo, who was the Port’s attorney when the old sugar refinery land was acquired. “The capabilities of that location made it a natural purchase. There was room to grow, room to expand. That made it possible to reach the long-term plan of developing Globalplex to be a bulk cargo and general cargo facility that would expand employment.”

“Globalplex represented the Port’s most-aggressive effort to directly engage in operating terminals,” said Accardo.

In 2005, the port erected a 72,000 sq.-foot warehouse/transit shed and rail spur with the capability to handle multiple truck and rail loading dock activities. The expansive shed houses a variety of break-bulk and palletized shipments and has a covered rail loading dock.

Then, in 2010, the Globalplex’s total storage capacity ballooned again upon the completion of another transit shed – at the time, the fourth on the Port’s industrial campus. The perfectly square shed was strategically placed at the foot of the general cargo access dock bridge and was built to withstand Category 5 hurricane winds.
Toward the end of former Port Director Joel Chaisson’s tenure, officials opened arguably the most important and transformative addition to Globalplex, the 700-foot long, 65-foot wide Finger Pier, which enabled up to three ships being docked at one time. On that same day in 2013, the Port also cut the ribbon on its Maritime Security Operations Center —a 2,000 square-foot hardened concrete and steel building furnished with impact-resistant glass that can withstand hurricane-force winds. The general purpose of the $1.2 million project is to provide safe haven to manage emergencies within the Port District. Thanks to the latest communications and surveillance technology, the Port is now linked to four other security centers at deep water ports along the Mississippi as well as federal, state, and parish emergency agencies.

“It’s obvious, looking back, that Globalplex has been a huge success,” said Chaisson. “The step-by-step changes —land acquisition, building improvements, warehouse expansions —have all been positive. It’s continued to move forward, it’s been made better and made bigger. The Port is a hot area and a desirable location for businesses for many different reasons, and having Globalplex is certainly one of them.”

Globalplex will continue to transform in the years to come as Aucoin said $46 million worth of future projects are in the pre-bid phase, including a new administration building, upgrades to existing warehouses, a dock strengthening plan, as well as the purchasing of new cranes for the finger pier and general cargo dock.

“As they say, we’ve kept the ‘pedal to the metal’ with improvement projects to Globalplex,” Aucoin said. “If you don’t do that, you fall behind. Everything we’ve done to Globalplex has been done with our mission in mind —Promote Maritime Commerce, Trade and Development and to Establish Public/Private Partnerships for the Creation of Intermodal Industrial Facilities.

“I think, symbolically, Globalplex and the improvements at Globalplex show everybody that we’re here for the long haul and that we’re committed to the needs of our clients.”

 

Globalplex 2017

 


 

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