BY LAURA HELLER
If Lynn E. Hohensee, West Calcasieu Port director, had three wishes, he knows what at least
one of them would be.
“If I rub the bottle hard enough and the genie is of a kind nature, I would like to see the West Cal
Port continue to make a strong, positive impact on our regional economic growth,” he said. “I
think the port will continue to serve as a catalyst for the expansion of business, commerce and
industry along La. 27 from Sulphur south into Cameron Parish.”
The 190-acre West Calcasieu Port, located 12 miles south of Interstate 10 on La. 27 in Sulphur,
has been an integral part of west Calcasieu’s growth and expansion.
Hohensee spoke with the American Press about the port, its recent accomplishments and its
As port director, what is a typical day like for you?
A typical day can encompass an array of activities and functions, like attending to the needs of
our West Calcasieu Port tenants; contacting companies that could become new tenants at the
port; keeping the port board of commissioners apprised of activities; working hand-in-hand with
our CPA, engineer and attorney and coordinating with a variety of external groups — political,
maritime, regulatory and security.
What are your responsibilities as port director?
I am employed on a part-time, contract basis. Because the port is quite small compared to the
Port of Lake Charles or the Port of New Orleans, the West Cal Port does not have a full-time
staff. It is a public entity that was formed by the Louisiana Legislature in 1964 and first and
foremost, is an economic development “engine” designed to foster and promote economic
growth in the western portion of Calcasieu Parish — recruit businesses to the port and create
jobs. My primary responsibilities include marketing the port to the maritime community, working
with state and regional economic development professionals, tending to the needs of our port
tenants and serving as a steward of the public taxpayers’ port investment. It is very important
that the West Cal Port is operated with the highest standard of ethics and in an environmentally
What do you like most about your job?
The ability to work with a vast number of people, all of whom help me champion the growth/
development of the West Cal Port. This is includes a very supportive and guiding board of
commissioners under President Brent Clement, our Calcasieu Parish Police Jury
representatives, our Southwest Louisiana legislative delegation, local representatives of our
federal delegation, our tenants, members of the Southwest Louisiana Port Network and the
membership of the Ports Association of Louisiana. Overseeing the operations of a maritime
port, regardless of its size, is an incredible task and opportunity. It cannot be done in a vacuum.
Since you came aboard at the West Cal Port in 2006, what have been the most significant
“successes” for the port?
The most positive impact for the port came this year when we successfully completed the
maintenance dredging of the port’s west barge basin. The basin was in bad need of repair prior
to 2005, but it was in even more disrepair following Hurricane Rita and then three years later,
Hurricane Ike. It took a tremendous team effort by our port team to secure a $1.5 million grant
from the Department of Transportation and Development’s Port Priority Fund. These funds,
combined with recovery funding by FEMA and the public funding provided by the city of Sulphur
and the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, made the improvements possible. The West Cal Port
again serves as a critical operations center in Southwest Louisiana for “brown water” maritime
transportation — that means shallow-water barging operations. Having a quality barge basin
already is spurring new growth opportunities as prospective new tenants continue to show
interest in the port.
Another success for the port has been the addition of Orion Marine Group’s F. Miller
Construction to our tenant list this fall. This brings a dozen or more critical jobs to the port.
How does the West Cal Port fit into the maritime picture of Southwest Louisiana?
Our corner of the state is blessed with a strong line up of progressive ports. Most folks are well
aware of the Port of Lake Charles, which is the country’s 11th largest port. But, we also have
the West and East Cameron ports, the Port of Vinton and the Mermentau Port. For the past two
years, all six ports have worked closely together within the Southwest Louisiana Port Network.
Each port really has its own niche. Our strength at the West Cal Port is our location on the Gulf
Intracoastal Waterway, just two miles west of the Calcasieu River Waterway.
While we continue to grow and develop as a servicesoriented port, our long-term mission also
encompasses a strategy to recruit industrial tenants that have a strategic need for shallow water
transportation to bring in feedstock and barge out finished products. We anticipate that these
clients have the potential to have a tremendous impact on the growth of capital investment, jobs
and tax revenue for the parish and the state.
Since Sept. 11, how has security been stepped up at the port?
As is the situation with all ports across the country, we are precluded from going into detail
regarding our specific security operations. What I can say, though, is that we work very closely
with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office to make sure that our
operations are safe for our tenants and their clients.
What have you done at the port to offset the decrease in state funding?
State funding in Louisiana — like other states — is being forced to undergo tremendous
change. For our state’s ports, this means that we will have to continue to work hard to secure
state funding for the growth/development of our ports. In Louisiana, records show that for every
state dollar invested in the ports, the state receives $6 in return. That is an impressive return on
investment. Our 30-plus ports in Louisiana have played and will continue to play a critical role in
the growth of our state’s economy.
What would you like to see happen at the port in the coming years?
I see the West Cal Port working in concert with our other ports and the Alliance/Southwest
Louisiana to support multiparish growth opportunities — from the development of Monkey Island
at the mouth of the Calcasieu River as the state’s next Port Fourchon of the West to the
attraction of industries that can reap the benefits of our vast infrastructure of navigable
waterways, which is critical to making Southwest Louisiana a gateway to the world.
How are the port operations funded?
Our port operations are totally funded by our tenant revenue stream which is augmented by
local, state and federal grants, when we can qualify for them. The port receives no millage
funding from our taxing district.
Who are the port’s current tenants?
Anchoring the port’s list of tenants is Devall Enterprises, which includes Devall Towing and
Devall Diesel Services. The Devall family has been a vital part of the port dating back to the
port’s early years in the 1960s. We are also proud to welcome this fall F. Miller Construction to
the port. In 2006, F. Miller became a subsidiary of Orion Marine Group, the nation’s third largest
marine construction/ engineering firm. We currently are in discussions with three other
companies that are interested in locating operations at our port. The largest limitation to our
physical growth at the port is that we have only 190 acres within our property line and a sizable
segment of that are wetlands that are unusable, unless mitigated, which is very expensive.
Who are the members or the port’s board of commissioners?
Brent Clement, Matt Vincent, Tim Dougherty, Wilmer Dugas and Dick Kennison. Our port CPA
is Darla Perry; port engineer, Chuck Stutes (with Meyer & Associates) and port attorney, Glen
James. This is the team that makes the operational successes at the West Cal Port possible.
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