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.