Business News from Around the State

Port of New Orleans

Louisiana’s increasingly hospitable business climate continues to draw relocations and expansions while spurring growth in homegrown companies. Here are a few highlights of recent business activity statewide.
 

Port rides a wave

NEW ORLEANS – More than $100 million worth of improvements have the Port of New Orleans on track to set new highs in container cargo and cruise traffic, port President Gary LaGrange said recently. Highlights include two new gantry cranes at the Napoleon Avenue container terminal, a cruise ship terminal that more than doubled the port’s cruise capacity and a $40 million cold-storage plant that is one of the largest in the world. LaGrange said the cold-storage plant will generate $126 million in annual spending and add 125 jobs.
The port is on track to outpace last year’s totals in both container traffic and general cargo and will be positioned to capture new business stemming from the opening of the enlarged Panama Canal, he said.
 

Steel plant to be a U.S. first

CADDO – Big spending could mean big job gains in North Louisiana when Benteler Steel/Tube opens a hot rolling tube mill aimed at bolstering the company’s position in North American oil exploration and drilling. Construction will begin this spring on the $900 million facility that will become Benteler’s first U.S. steel tube plant, expected to generate 1,000 construction jobs and about 675 full-time jobs.
 The plant is slated for completion in 2015.
 

Lumber jobs stack up

NATCHITOCHES – A $6 million capital investment by Weyerhaeuser Corp. will retain 175 jobs and create 30 new positions at the company’s Natchitoches forest products plant. Weyerhaeuser plans an equipment upgrade that’s expected to increase productivity at the 250,000-square-foot site, which turns out I-joists, laminated veneer lumber and structural beams. Hiring is under way, and construction should be finished late in 2013. The company employs 845 people around the state.
 

Shipbuilding hot on the bayou

LOCKPORT – Rustic Bayou Lafourche continues to nurture manufacturing jobs as Bollinger Shipyards recently landed a $250 million contract to build six Fast Response Cutters, or FRCs, for the Coast Guard. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who announced the contract, said the “exceptional ships” will replace a portion of the Coast Guard’s aging patrol boat fleet and perform functions ranging from rescues to law enforcement and homeland security missions. The cutters will be based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The latest Senate Homeland Security Appropriations bill also included funding for six more cutters to be built in Louisiana, Landrieu said.
 

Billions fuel gas production

DONALDSONVILLE – One of the largest projects ever built in Ascension Parish will get under way when CF Industries Holdings Inc. starts a $2 billion expansion of its Donaldsonville Nitrogen Complex. The site is the largest of the Illinois company’s seven North American nitrogen plants and produces anhydrous ammonia and other products used by agricultural, industrial and other markets.
The company is investing in the Donaldsonville site to take advantage of the area’s five major natural gas pipelines and multiple modes of transportation, Senior Vice President W. Anthony Will said in announcing the project. The expansion will generate nearly 100 new jobs with an average salary of $56,500, while retaining 349 existing jobs.
 

New classrooms bolster work force

WINNFIELD – Job training took a forward leap recently with the dedication of a new building on the Huey P. Long campus of Central Louisiana Technical Community College. The state supported a $12 million investment to construct the building, which will replace the original structure built in the 1930s and add updated classrooms and laboratory space.
 

LSU boosts engineering talent

BATON ROUGE – LSU’s reputation for generating top engineering talent got a boost recently with the announcement of a $100 million project to create a 21st-century engineering education complex. Funded jointly by the state and private donations, the project will renovate and expand Patrick F. Taylor Hall, adding new laboratory space for teaching and translational research, updated graduate student space and dedicated project rooms. Construction is slated to begin in the fall of 2014 and finish in two years. The renovation and the addition of a new annex dedicated to chemical engineering will bring total College of Engineering space to more than 380,000 square feet, more than double the current area. n

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