Friday, June 21, 2024

The Top Story of 2023: Port of Caddo-Bossier has a huge year

by BIZ Magazine

As 2023 comes to a close, one of the busiest years in the area belonged to the Port of Caddo-Bossier. Sitting along the Red River Waterway, the 4,000 acres complex offers waterway access to the Gulf of Mexico, road access to I-20 and I-49, and on-site rail with daily switching.

The year saw the entity break ground on a new waterline from Bossier City, construction begin on a second heavy industrial warehouse and a new commissioner be sworn in.

In fact, these developments were part of the reason Dr. Loren Scott, a renowned economist and economic forecaster, called out the Port in his Louisiana Economic Forecast for 2024-2025 in October. He noted the Port’s “vital role in the region’s economic development.”

Below are some of the major developments over 2023 that made The Port BIZ.’s biggest story of the year. 

Economist paints promising picture for Port

Dr. Loren Scott highlighted the Port and its tenants during his annual 2024-25 Louisiana Economic Forecast presented at the Port in early October. 

“A significant driver of economic growth in (the Shreveport-Bossier) MSA has been the Port of Caddo-Bossier, and it looks like it will continue to be so,” said Dr. Scott. 

Altogether, Dr. Scott noted tenants at the Port employ about 1,620 people and capital expenditures by those tenants over 2024-25 will equal $126.9 million.

Furthermore, he mentioned developments by the Port include a new $25 million railroad in the design stage, while the state transportation department is advertising bids for a $60 million I-69 service road that would provide direct connectivity from the Port to I-49.

He then dove into the tenants and their successes. Dr. Scott noted that one of the largest employers at the Port is Benteler Steel, with the company enjoying good activity in the steel pipe manufacturing business as the U.S. rig count rose from the depths of the COVID shutdown. 

“Lower oil and natural gas prices recently have put a damper on sales, but if our price forecasts for these two fuels hold up, Benteler’s sales will rejuvenate,” Dr. Scott’s report said. “Now at 350 employees, Benteler expects this number to grow to 430 over 2024-25. Benteler has $6 million in planned capital projects ahead.”

His report noted that by the end of 2024, Sports South will have added 130,000 square feet to its footprint at the Port and the company’s employment has risen to 350 from 280 last year. Morris Dickson is spending $2 million to replace and add to its distribution center at the Port, raising the company’s employment from 267 to 307 over the next two years. 

Ternium presently employs 182 people at its steel facility at the Port and expects to break ground on an expansion soon. Ronpak employs 243 people at its Port site and has an additional 130,000 square feet under construction that, once finished, will grow employment to 350. OMNI has a $1 million capital investment underway for machine additions and modernization. Sunny Point Aggregates was bought out by Alpine Silica and is projected to almost double its employment over the next two years from 88 to 148.

Port of Caddo-Bossier, Bossier City officials break ground for new Port waterline

On Wednesday, Oct. 18, The Port of Caddo-Bossier and leaders from Bossier City broke ground for a new waterline that will supply water to an undeveloped portion of The Port.

The new waterline will also provide a secondary source of water for current Port tenants. The ceremony was held at the LSU AgCenter off Highway 71 in Bossier City.

“This is a significant day for The Port of Caddo-Bossier for two important reasons,” said Walt Bigby Jr., President of The Port Commission. “First, this waterline is needed to attract companies to our sites on the west side of Highway 1. Secondly, we like to offer a redundant source to our tenants for water, electricity, and natural gas. This line will offer the secondary source of water for our current tenants.” 

The Bossier City Council approved the waterline extension in April 2023. The Port will finance the project, which will run into the tens of millions of dollars, with a low-interest loan. Bossier City would make a profit from the sale of the water to the tenants.

“I truly believe the residents of Bossier City will benefit greatly from this venture,” said Bossier City Councilman David Montgomery. “By allowing The Port to tap into our water system, we will increase city revenue and at the same time create new jobs for our residents.”

Bossier City upgraded its Red River Water Treatment Plant so that it can handle 50 million gallons of water a day. Currently, the city is not using the plant to its full capacity. Even if Bossier City’s population doubled, the water treatment plant would still produce enough clean water to handle The Port’s needs. If the city sells just 3 million gallons of water a day to a new Port tenant, it would make more than $1.7 million. Revenue would increase as the amount of water sold also increases.

The new underground pipeline will connect to a waterline that currently ends at Parkway High School. It will extend to the Red River. A tunnel will be bored 100 feet under the river that will connect the waterline to The Port. While crews are boring under the river, they will add a second pipeline for sewage. Crews will cap the line until there is a need to move waste to Bossier City for treatment.

“This project shows Bossier City’s commitment to The Port and economic development,” said Bossier City Mayor Tommy Chandler. “To improve our community, we need to offer our citizens new opportunities. I believe this waterline will bring new opportunities.”

“This waterline is the first step for The Port to upgrade our new sites for potential tenants,” said Eric England, Executive Port Director. “Our economic development partners Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation, BRF and North Louisiana Economic Partnership agree that we must have shovel-ready greenfield sites if we are going to attract new businesses and jobs to the area. We plan to add a rail spur, electric substations, natural gas lines and transload facility so that those sites are tenant-ready.”

Port of Caddo-Bossier breaks ground on new heavy-load warehouse

The Port of Caddo-Bossier broke ground Nov. 12 on a new heavy-load, multi-modal warehouse today. The Red River Waterway Commission and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development are helping to fund the construction of the 40,000 square foot building.

Crews with Wieland Davco Corporation have started initial groundwork at the site and plans call for the warehouse to open early next summer. The warehouse sits behind the Port’s newly constructed 100,000 square foot warehouse, which opened in June 2022. The new warehouse will add to the 310,000 square feet currently leased by Odyssey Logistics, LLC at the Port of Caddo-Bossier, where it stores products for other Port tenants.

“Building a second warehouse just a year after we opened our 100,000 square foot warehouse shows the need our tenants have for storage,” said Walter Bigby Jr., President of the Caddo-Bossier Parishes Port Commission. “By constructing this new warehouse, The Port has positioned itself to maintain long-term relationships with its current tenants and grow more interest in our facilities.” 

“As part of its mission, the Red River Waterway Commission works to promote economic development along the J. Bennett Johnston Waterway,” said Colin Brown, Executive Director of the Red River Waterway Commission. “The continued growth and development of The Port of Caddo-Bossier plays a key role in that development. The opening of this new heavy-load industrial warehouse is yet another success story for our region that is a direct result of the vision of and the continued partnership between the Commission, the Port, and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.”

“In Louisiana 1 in every 5 jobs is port related and the ports make up almost 23% of the dollar amount for the state’s goods and services,” said Renee Lapeyrolerie, Commissioner for Louisiana’s Department of Transportation and Development’s Office of Multimodal Commerce. “Investing in port infrastructure projects such as this, impacts not only the Caddo-Bossier region, but the entire state.”

Port of Caddo-Bossier welcomes new commissioner

Retired Judge Stephen V. Callaway was sworn-in as the newest member of the Caddo-Bossier Parishes Port Commission  on November 13. Callaway was selected by the Caddo Parish Commission to serve on the Port Commission to fulfill the rest of the unexpired term for Captain Thomas F. Muphy.

After 28 years as Bankruptcy Judge for the Western District of Louisiana, Judge Callaway retired from the bench. Judge Callaway practiced law in Shreveport as a partner in the firm of Burnett, Sutton, Walker and Callaway for 13 years before becoming bankruptcy judge. Judge Callaway is a graduate of C.E. Byrd High School, and he received his Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctorate from Louisiana State University. He also served in the Marine Corps Reserve, where he attained the rank of E-5 Sergeant.

“Judge Callaway’s resume speaks volumes of the attributes he brings to the Port Commission,” said Port Commission President Walter O. Bigby Jr. “His years on the bench and as an attorney will help the Port Commission navigate new projects, including the expansion of utilities to the west side of the Port campus. We look forward to working with Judge Callaway in the coming years.”

Port of Caddo-Bossier highlights three years of accomplishments

The Port of Caddo-Bossier celebrated its achievements in March 2023 with its tenants and stakeholders at the Regional Commerce Center. This event was the first Port Night held since 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions. Port Night highlighted the accomplishments of the last few years.

While the pandemic affected Port tenants and tonnage, Port employees were deemed as essential workers and continued to work. At the end of 2022, commodities at the Port topped a million tons. 

Some Port of Caddo-Bossier highlights of the past three years are listed below: 

– In May 2022, a groundbreaking was held for Performance Proppants’ Sunny Point Aggregates new Port facility, located in Bossier Parish. The company will remove 45 million tons of frac sand from an oxbow lake off the Red River to help reduce costs associated with drilling in the Haynesville Shale. Sixty new jobs are expected to be created.

– In June 2022, a ribbon cutting was held for The Port’s new 100,000-square-foot, heavy industrial warehouse. The Port of Caddo-Bossier, the Red River Waterway Commission, and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development funded the $15 million project.  

– The Port of Caddo-Bossier helped the new Teal-Jones sawmill in Plain Dealing with conduit bonds, which made financing the project easier. The new sawmill will create 125 direct and 369 indirect jobs.

– The Port reached two milestones with customer Vulcraft Texas, which is a division of Nucor. In January 2020, the company’s 100th barge was off-loaded at The Port. In 2022, the company’s 200th barge of steel coils was off-loaded.

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