The Calcasieu Ship Channel is an economic driver, whose value on the local, state and federal levels shouldn't be taken for granted.
The ship channel generated $5.7 billion in local revenue, with another $4.4 billion projected by 2023, according to a 2015 report,. More than 30 percent of the Lake Area workforce, or 36,000 workers, was tied to the channel in 2014, with another 9,000 anticipated new jobs by 2023.
The report also estimated that channel-dependent companies would generate $274 million in annual local revenue by 2023.
Officials have long been touting the ship channel's importance in pushing Southwest Louisiana's economy. They have also talked about how necessary maintaining the channel is for the entities that benefit from it.
Thankfully, $9 million has been secured for this upcoming fiscal year to cover the non-federal costs associated with disposing dredged materials along the channel. This was made possible through a public-private partnership between the state, the Port of Lake Charles and local industry.
The Legislature did its part by including $3 million for the effort in House Bill 1, which was approved at the close of a 30-day special session held in response to COVID-19. A bill by Rep. Stephen Dwight, a Moss Bluff Republican, was approved during the regular session that set up the funding formula, with the state and port each contributing $3 million. Industries that operate a facility on the channel will also contribute funding, based on how many ships are expected at the facility, along with the facility's distance from the mouth of the channel.
Richert Self, the Port of Lake Charles' new director, said the partnership between these entities is "a huge milestone" in making sure there is enough capacity for dredge spoils.
Prior to the partnership, Self said the port was footing the bill for the non-federal costs linked to the channel's Dredged Material Management Plan. Dwight said that wasn't sustainable over the long term. This partnership relieves the port of that financial burden.
Along with the upcoming fiscal year pledge, the Division of Administration and Gov. John Bel Edwards have agreed to contribute $5 million in state funding for the 2021 fiscal year. The port and industry will provide $2.5 million each.
This partnership is proof that state and local agencies can work together in ensuring the ship channel's continued success as a proven economic driving force.