Despite COVID-19 capital improvements coming to port

Special to BIZ. Magazine

2020 has been a year full of surprises. A pandemic essentially shut down the economy. Then, a hurricane named Laura made her presence known in Northwest Louisiana. Despite these obstacles, one constant was The Port of Caddo-Bossier. 

Currently, The Port and its tenants have created about 1,850 jobs. Noted economist Dr. Loren Scott said the area has seen “really good” growth from The Port and that it was a helpful source of stability for the area during the pandemic.

According to Dr. Scott’s recent Louisiana Economic Outlook report, some Port tenants have felt the impact of COVID-19. Due to a drop in oil and gas production, Benteler Steel temporarily laid off part of its workforce. Despite the slowdown, Benteler Steel will make $1 million in upgrades to its plant.

Other Port tenants, including Omni Specialty Packaging, Ronpak, Pratt Industries and Calumet Packaging, are still planning on $35 million in capital improvement projects at their facilities and possibly the creation of new jobs.

The Port of Caddo-Bossier has come a long way since 1993, when Caddo and Bossier voters approved a special property tax to allow The Port to purchase land and to build docks and other infrastructure needed to get started. 

Since then, The Port of Caddo-Bossier continues to grow. It currently sits on 3,200 acres in Caddo and Bossier parishes. As part of a five-year master plan, The Port has identified sites to help expand its footprint in Northwest Louisiana. Long-term goals are to acquire 3,000 acres to develop two mega-sites (each occupying 500 acres) and several small developments up to 100 acres.

“The Port of Caddo-Bossier has a mission to enhance commerce, attract investment and create jobs,” said Executive Port Director Eric England. “We are a multifaceted economic engine, serving our current tenants’ needs while trying to bring new industry to The Port.”

To attract new business, The Port is currently building a $14 million 100,000-square-foot multimodal warehouse. 

“2020 has been a unique year, but we continue to press ahead,” said England. “We don’t know what 2021 will bring, but we know our team can handle any situation and do it safely.”