West Cal Port now certified La. Economic Development site

American Press
February 5, 2020
By John Guidroz

SULPHUR — A 32-acre site at the West Calcasieu Port is officially Louisiana Economic Development certified, offering shovel-ready land for businesses looking to build there.

During a Tuesday press conference at Intracoastal Park, Lynn Hohensee, port director, said the site could attract anywhere from 300 to 400 jobs.

“It could be fabrication of materials or parts or modules for new industries coming in,” he said. “It could be a laydown yard for intermodal transportation. Materials may come in by barge and wait here because there’s no space at the construction site, and when it’s needed, moved to the site.”

The port site is the 12th in Southwest Louisiana and the ninth in Calcasieu Parish to be certified under LED’s site certification program.

Gus Fontenot, project coordinator for the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, said a tenant could use the port’s site to provide services for projects currently awaiting final investment decision, such as Driftwood LNG, Magnolia LNG and Lake Charles LNG.

“There’s going to be a lot of industrial construction activity in this area, and West Cal Port is in the heart of it,” he said. “When those projects kick off … it’ll help them get in on the game, get a piece of the action.”

The certification removes any obstacles that may interrupt development, such as property having wetlands or underground artifacts, Fontenot said.

“That helps that property in the marketplace (and) gives it more of a competitive edge,” he said. “The port is poised for a good future.”

Hohensee said Louisiana Economic Development paid for 75 percent of the certification cost, roughly $45,000, while the port paid the remaining 25 percent, or about $15,000.

The West Calcasieu Port is made up of more than 200 acres along the Intracoastal Waterway, just west of the Ellender Bridge.

Last September, the port received a $4.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. Hohensee said the grant will cover 80 percent of the cost associated with building a steel sheet pile bulkhead berth facility along the north bank of the Intracoastal Waterway.

West Calcasieu Port earns LED certification

February 4, 2020
By Drew Marine

LAKE CHARLES, La. — More job opportunities could be on the horizon in Southwest Louisiana, as another site has been Louisiana Economic Development, or LED, certified.

“Site certification was started because Louisiana Economic Development recognized Louisiana was losing projects to other states that had what they called site readiness programs,” Gus Fontenot, the economic development project manager for the SWLA Economic Development Alliance, said.

Now, thirty-two acres of land on the West Calcasieu Port Property is an LED certified site.

“That means we’re going out and making our facilities available for private businesses and industry that want to grow job numbers, expand the tax base of our communities and invest monies in infrastructure development,” Lynn Hohensee, the port director, said.

The certification allows this acreage to be “shovel ready”, meaning it’s already been inspected to be sure businesses and industry can move in, knowing there are no environmental issues. “We look for wetlands, is it in a flood zone? Are there any stream beds?” Fontenot said.

Due to the fact the property is LED certified, it’s readily available to lease. Hohensee hopes the convenience of their location will attract business.

“We’ve reached out to many of these projects, worked with their general contracting companies and told them we’re certainly available to help them and their subcontractors in doing the business of building these facilities,” Hohensee.

Hohensee said he expects the certification could ultimately result in the creation of 300 to 400 jobs.

Carlyss resident named to West Calcasieu Port board

SULPHUR, La. — Carlyss Resident Buddy Reams has been appointed to the West Calcasieu Port five-person board of commissioners by the Calcasieu Parish police jurors of the western portion of the parish.

Reams’ appointment was confirmed by resolution of the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury on Feb. 6, 2020. His term will expire in October 2024. Reams assumed a port board commissioner position that was previously held by Dave Aguillard.

Reams serves as NACE International’s Chief Maritime Officer, a position he started in April 2016 after retiring from the United States Coast Guard (USCG). From 2006 to 2009, he served as the commander of Marine Safety Unit Lake Charles.

In his current civilian role, he leads the development of corrosion control programs and services to meet increasing demand from all global maritime industries including notably the shipbuilding, shipping, shore/port infrastructure, and offshore sectors. He is also the organization’s accredited representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Originally from Virginia, he was raised in Florida. He is a 1992 honors graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy with a BS in Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering. Reams also holds two Master of Science degrees from the University of Michigan — in Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering and Industrial Operations Engineering.

His nearly three decades of USCG service included engineering assignments on two USCG Cutters in South Florida supporting hurricane response and migrant interdiction operations and more than two decades of focus on commercial vessel safety. His responsibilities in this area included marine casualty investigations, foreign and domestic ship inspections, technical plan review of all ship types, global salvage engineering support and leading the Coast Guard’s technical program for all passenger and container ships, including work at IMO developing
safety standards, and collaboration with NTSB on improving mariner safety.

At Marine Safety Unit Lake Charles he led responses to major pollution and hurricane incidents, initiated sustainable joint law enforcement activities, and promoted overall port safety, security, and resiliency.

In the back half of his career, he established and led two separate National Centers of Expertise; one for cruise ships and another focused on liquefied gas ships, to meet Congressional demands of better industry focus. In these roles as the Coast Guard’s primary liaison to the respective industries, he directly managed Coast Guard wide training, field operation techniques, and policy development for nation’s marine safety programs associated with those industries.

He retired from the service at the rank of Captain as Chief of Prevention Operations in the Seventh Coast Guard District. In this capacity, he oversaw Maritime Safety mission performance in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and the Caribbean, including the Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteer organization, bridges over navigable waterways, aids to navigation, waterway management including port restoration following storms, and marine safety inspection and casualty investigation activities.

Reams and his wife, Melisa, have two teenage children, Matthew and Crystal.

West Cal Port Earns Site Certification

February 4, 2020

SULPHUR, La. — West Calcasieu Port Director Lynn Hohensee announced today that the port is now home to a certified site under Louisiana Economic Development’s Site Certification Program. The director made the announcement this morning at a special ceremony held at Intracoastal Park.

The 32-acre certified site is adjacent to existing tenants and other port property, which consists of 203 acres along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway off La. Hwy. 27, just west of the Ellender Bridge. Hohensee hopes the Certified Site will help attract new tenants to the port, which is zoned Heavy Industrial.

“Like our fellow 30-plus public maritime ports in Louisiana, the West Cal Port is a regional economic development engine designed to attract private business that, in turn, will facilitate the growth of private investment, job growth and tax base expansion,” Hohensee explained. “Our port commissioners are confident that the newly certified acreage will be an incentive that will attract new tenants and their workforce.”

“West Cal Port is located in an area that could potentially be useful to major construction projects as they develop up and down the Calcasieu Ship Channel,” said Gus Fontenot, Project Coordinator for the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance. “The port having a certified site lets them offer an an advantage to companies that want to locate and start their operations quickly. Hopefully this results in new jobs for the community and more revenue for the port,” added Fontenot.

LED’s Site Certification Program promotes sites that are “shovel ready” for businesses and industries to build or locate. Since 2012, the Site Certification Program has incentivized land owners to get property certified by offering to pay up to 75 percent of the costs associated with the due diligence process. That process includes environmental inspection, elevation surveys, archaeological investigations, a wetlands delineation, and much more in-depth documentation, analysis, and background work. The remaining 25 percent of the costs are covered by the landowner or others. The West Cal Port site is the 12th certified site in Southwest Louisiana and the ninth in Calcasieu Parish.

For more information about Southwest Louisiana’s Site Certification Program, contact Gus Fontenot at The Alliance (337) 433-3632 or email [email protected].

West Calcasieu Port awards construction contract for new entrance road

SULPHUR, La., Nov.18, 2019 – The West Calcasieu Port Board of Commissioners voted earlier this month to award the contract for the construction of the port’s new entrance road to McManus Construction of Lake Charles, La..

The successful base bid of $1,590,233.60 was the lowest among seven bids received by the port during its competitive public bid process. Construction is expected to start by January 2020 with an estimated completion date of August 2020.

“The West Cal Port Board of Commissioners was encouraged to have received such a large number of bid packets for the project,” said Dick Kennison, board president for the West Calcasieu Port. “The commissioners were equally impressed with the quality of the contractors that were interested in the port’s project and spent a considerable amount of time reviewing all of the data and information included in the packets.”

Lynn Hohensee, WCP director, noted that the public facility will work closely with local, state and federal officials to make sure that all construction activity associated with the project is in line with regulatory guidelines and that an aggressive time schedule is followed for the new road work.

“As the number of tenants at the West Calcasieu Port has expanded over the past few years, it became apparent that the port’s neighboring residential community and its quality of life was not conducive to the growing heavy industrial road traffic that accompanied the increased activity at the port, he said.

“For that reason and the convenience of our tenants, the port’s board of commissioners commissioned the construction of a new roadway that would enter the port off Goss Road before entering the residential area,” Hohensee continued.

He explained that the port’s board of commissioners led the way in securing the necessary state funding support for the roadway construction. Significant funding support will come from a $878,382 portion of a $1,200,618 Port Priority Fund grant awarded to the port by the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development for dredging of the port’s barge basin and construction of the entrance road.

“The Port Priority Fund grant is restricted to 90 percent of the construction costs related to the road construction project,” Hohensee said. “The port is using internal funding to cover the costs associated with the balance of the construction costs as well as the engineering and permitting costs associated with the project.”

Located 12 miles south of Interstate 10 and just west of Highway 27, the WCP has 2,500 feet of waterfront property on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

Current tenant activity includes barge-fleeting operations, marine construction, wet barge cleaning/stripping, dry cargo barge cleaning and concrete pumping.

Cassidy Addresses McNeese Students, Speaks of Impeachment Issue

Oct. 5, 2019
by Crystal Stevenson

“Just when I thought our country couldn’t be more polarized, this happens,” U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy said of Congress’ impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

Cassidy made the comments while addressing history and political science students Friday morning at McNeese State University. The questionand-answer session was part of a three-top tour of Southwest Louisiana for the Republican senator, who also attended Lyondell Basell’s 60th anniversary celebration in Westlake and toured the West Calcasieu Port in Sulphur.

Senator Bill Cassidy Visits Southwest Louisiana

Oct. 5, 2019

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) – Sen. Bill Cassidy made a few visits across Southwest Louisiana Friday, taking a stop in Westlake to celebrate Lyondell Basell’s 60th anniversary to acknowledge how the industry has impacted the future of the area.

“May you be here sixty years from now, whoever is speaking at that time will note, just as I have, that the quality of this place, with these wages and these benefits, has so positively affected not just those who work here now, but their children and their grandchildren,” Cassidy said.

Cassidy’s visit to the area coincided with news from the U.S. Department of Labor that the country’s unemployment rate is 3.5 percent, the lowest in 50 years.

During a stop at the West Calcasieu Port, Cassidy noted how Southwest Louisiana’s landscape is so important to the economy.
“We in Louisiana not only have a geography that allows us to ship goods around the world, we have a really good workforce,” Cassidy said. “They routinely take six barges at a time safely across our country.”

He cited the tax cut and jobs act as an indirect policy that helped lower the unemployment rate — saying there’s no better way to learn about its impact than seeing the results himself.

The September unemployment numbers for Louisiana will come out later this month. The August numbers put Louisiana’s jobless rate at 4.3 percent. In the Lake Charles region unemployment was 4 percent.

Copyright 2019 KPLC. All rights reserved.

West Calcasieu Port Receives New Funding

Sept. 21. 2019
By Chandler Watkins

SULPHUR, La. (KPLC) – The West Calcasieu Port is getting some major upgrades, thanks to a $4.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration.

“The EDA funding for this project is a part of the $600 million allocated to EDA by Congress to help communities impacted by 2017 natural disasters to help them rebuild and recover.” Jason Wilson, a representative for the U.S. Economic Development Administration said.

The grant will be matched with $1.1 million in local investment.

The project results from regional planning efforts led by the Imperial Calcasieu Regional Planning and Development Commission, and was funded by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, in which Congress appropriated $600 million to the EDA for disaster relief and recovery as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and other 2017 natural disasters under the Stafford Act.

So what will the money be going towards?

“It involves a project along our waterway,” Darla Perry, port CPA, said. “The total project will be $5.3 million. We will be installing 600 feet of bulkheading and a crane pad which will expand our port operations and be able to allow our port tenants to provide needed services to the maritime industry.”

“The bulkheading is going to help tremendously with silting and such as that,” Dick Kennison, Board president, said. “We won’t have to dredge as often as we have had to in the past which will be a big help. We get between 100 and 120 barges coming through our port each day. That will facilitate the port going out and getting new businesses because we have the facilities to handle them.”

The port averages daily fleeting of 130 barges, and the crane and bulkhead improvements will help it become a more significant player in transporting large industrial modules for the liquefied natural gas industry and related plant construction, according to West Calcasieu Port Director Lynn Hohensee. The port is located 1.5 miles west of the Calcasieu Ship Channel, where LNG industrial development and major module traffic is concentrated.

This grant is expected to help create 400 jobs. The port says they expect the new addition to be completed within the next 18 months.

Copyright 2019 KPLC. All rights reserved.

Grant A Welcome Boost for Port

Sept. 21, 2019

Protecting Southwest Louisiana’s valuable economic development engines is a must, especially considering how vulnerable the area is to hurricanes and other disasters.

Sulphur’s West Calcasieu Port has been a major asset during severe storms, helping Louisiana and Southeast Texas after Hurricane Harvey’s 2017 landfall. Darla Perry, the port’s certified public accountant, said the port acts as “a safe harbor for shallow-water marine vessels in extreme weather conditions.”

Thanks to a sizeable federal grant, the port will be even more protected in the future.

Federal officials announced on Thursday that the port will get a $4.2 million grant to strengthen it against natural disasters. It’s a much-needed shot in the arm for a port that has seen a sizable increase in revenue over the last two decades.

The grant will cover a variety of work at the port, such as a steel sheet pile bulkhead berth facility built along the Intracoastal Waterway’s north bank. Another facility will allow shallow draft barges to load and unload up to 40 tons of cargo. Other features include steel sheet piling and a concrete crane pad next to the bulkhead.

The grant will also be paired with $1.1 million in local investment. Four hundred new jobs are expected.

Existing tenants at the West Calcasieu Port are also likely to benefit from this project. Devall Enterprises has been a tenant with the port for nearly 50 years — a testament to the working relationship between the two.

The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, with the project being funded under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. The administration got an extra $600 million to assist with recovery efforts following several disasters in 2017, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Thanks go out to the Imperial Calcasieu Regional Planning and Development Commission and other local industries for securing the grant over nearly two years.

Shot in the arm for West Cal Port – $4.2M grant expected to create 400 jobs

Sept. 21, 2019
by Heather Regan White

The West Calcasieu Port is set to receive a $4.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.

EDA representative Jason Wilson said the grant will be matched with $1.1 million in local investment and is expected to help create 400 jobs.

The funds will be used to make the port more resilient to natural disasters.

Work will consist of the construction of a steel sheet pile bulkhead berth facility along the north bank of the Intracoastal Waterway at the port. The project includes the installation of 600 linear feet of steel sheet piling and the construction of a facility designed for shallow draft barges to load and unload heavy cargo ranging in weight from 30 to 40 tons. A 60-foot square concrete crane pad will be located adjacent to the bulkhead to support the mobile cranes needed to lift the heavy cargo from the barges.

Limestone access drives and drainage features will also be installed.

Port CPA Darla Perry said the port’s total revenue has grown by 1,200 percent since she took her position in 1998. This growth is without any property tax millage assessment to businesses or homeowners, she said. The shallow water port, which is comprised of a little over 200 acres, fleets around 40,000 vessels annually.

The port’s longest tenant, Devall Enterprises, is a fleeting or parking service for barges and boats serving industries along the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi River and the Eastern Seaboard.

Devall Towing VP David Devall said the partnership between Devall and the port dates back nearly 50 years.

“The West Calcasieu Port has played an integral role in the growth of our family business,” he said. “The infrastructure and capital improvements being made will enable our company to expand services that support industries from all over the world.”

Other tenants include VLS Marine Services-Tubal Cain, River Barge Works, CGBM-Accutrans, Orion Marine, Star Concrete and Atlantic Equipment.

“Just as important as this is economically, our port serves as a safe harbor for shallow-water marine vessels in extreme weather conditions,” Perry said.

The project was made possible through regional planning efforts led by the Imperial Calcasieu Regional Planning and Development Commission, which is funded by the EDA. The port had assistance from IMCAL, local industries and government agencies in getting their economic grant request through the process, one which took almost two years.

The funding for the project is part of the $600 million in additional funds to Congress appropriated to the EDA under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 for disaster relief and recovery as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, wildfires, as well as natural disasters that occurred in 2017.