Last Modified: Sunday, May 27, 2012 7:31 PM
It is hoped a recent report on the economic impact of Louisiana’s ports will convince state lawmakers to dedicate more money to the maritime industry, an official with the Southwest Louisiana Port Network said Friday.
“Each of these ports are economic development engines in their own right,” said Lynn Hohensee, director of the West Calcasieu Port.
“What we have in place today probably wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have the Calcasieu River and the Intracoastal Waterway. If you look at petrochemical refining, timber, agriculture, commercial fishing and gaming, they’re all directly tied to water.”
The study — done by LSU economist James Richardson — showed that nearly 400,000 state jobs are related to Louisiana’s ports. It also showed 1,245 employees on port properties in Lake Charles. Tenants at the Port of Lake Charles have spent an estimated $4 billion in capital improvements.
More than half of state ports, including the West Calcasieu Port, do not receive dedicated money from local property taxes, Hohensee said. He said their only revenue stream is from tenant lease agreements, along with state and federal grant money for one-time projects.
According to a study done several years ago by the University of New Orleans, Louisiana’s ports return an average of $6 in tax revenue for every dollar the state invests in them, Hohensee said. Joe Accardo, executive director of the Ports Association of Louisiana, said in an email that the ratio still applies.
Hohensee discussed the report with several officials from the Southwest Louisiana Port Network, which includes the Port of Lake Charles, the West and East Cameron Ports, the Port of Mermentau, the Port of Vinton and the West Calcasieu Port.
Officials who attended the presentation were Bill Rase, Port of Lake Charles executive director; Stephen Broussard, Port of Mermentau board president; Gene Sonnier, Port of Vinton board president; and Dwight Savoie, board member of the West Cameron Port.
The study was paid for by the Ports Association of Louisiana and the state Department of Transportation and Development.
• Online: www.portsoflouisiana.org