Business news from around the state

The ribbon-cutting for the new Port Allen plant took place in late June. The plant is expected to generate up to 300 new jobs in the area.

Real estate deals, federal contracts and cruise line expansions are fueling business growth around Louisiana. Here are some snapshots of recent action.

Bedico Creek project revives in St. Tammany
ST. TAMMANY PARISH –– A big residential and recreation development that has been on hold for almost five years is moving forward again in western St. Tammany Parish. Veteran developer David Waltemath recently purchased the stalled 900-acre project called Bedico Creek, which is located south of Interstate 12 near Madisonville. Originally conceived as a sprawling golf and country club community with 1,000 homes, the project ran into trouble when the market softened. The lender foreclosed on the property, which later ended up in the hands of the FDIC.

Waltemath bought the assets of Bedico Creek in a sealed-bid auction for an undisclosed price. Best-known as the developer behind English Turn in New Orleans and the Estates of Northpark in St. Tammany, Waltemath says he will revive the project and convert the golf course centerpiece into open green space with trails, landscaping and other amenities for use by all residents of the subdivision. Despite ongoing softness in the housing market, he says the long-term prospects for the development are good.

Red River port adds elbow room
SHREVEPORT –– The Port of Shreveport-Bossier recently acquired 25 acres of land in Bossier Parish for use in attracting new tenants to the port. The acquisition followed the purchase in May of 80 acres from Shell Oil Co. to add to the port’s inventory of greenfield sites. Earlier this year the Red River Waterway Commission and the Caddo-Bossier Parishes Port Commission agreed to invest $1 million in land purchases to help expand the local base of cargo businesses. The acquisitions will complement the port’s inventory of sites suitable for manufacturing tenants in need of road, rail, pipeline and river access.

Shaw snags a Navy contract
BATON ROUGE –– The Shaw Group Inc. landed a five-year contract from the U.S. Navy to provide radiological contaminant services for several Navy facilities. The engineering firm was one of five companies selected under the contract, which is worth up to $250 million if all options are exercised. The Baton Rouge company will provide the services within the U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command’s Southwest and Atlantic areas of responsibility.

The company says about $37 million of the contract was included in its second-quarter backlog of unfilled orders.

The ultimate value of the contract will depend on how many task orders the company can get.

Crescent City may cruise to new records
NEW ORLEANS –– A ship shuffle by Carnival Cruise Lines at the Port of New Orleans next year will restore the company to its pre-Katrina capacity in the city. The cruise line will move its 2,970-passenger Conquest and 2,050-passenger Ecstasy from Galveston, Texas, to New Orleans in fall 2011 to operate year-round. As part of the repositioning, Carnival will move the Triumph from New Orleans to Galveston. The local expansion by Carnival follows on word from Royal Caribbean that it will return to New Orleans with winter cruises beginning next year.

Meanwhile, Norwegian Cruise Lines announced plans to expand its winter schedule to year-round sailings starting in November.

Gary LaGrange, president and CEO of the Port of New Orleans, says the actions of the three cruise lines position New Orleans to “break new records” in passenger volume. Before Katrina in 2005, the port handled more than 367,000 cruise ship passengers in 2004 as home port to four ships for three cruise lines. It was the fastest-growing cruise ship port in the country. A port spokesman says passenger counts are likely to top the
2004 figure by 2012.

Catalyst for growth in Port Allen
PORT ALLEN –– Criterion Catalysts & Technologies LP recently opened the doors to its new $350 million manufacturing plant on a former Alcoa Aluminum site in Port Allen. Criterion, which makes catalysts to remove impurities from fuels at petroleum refineries, primarily serves Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which is based in The Hague. The new Criterion plant is highly mechanized and uses alumina to produce pellets that are shipped in 1,500-pound sacks via truck, rail and barge containers to refineries in the United States and around the world.

A $1.2 million incentive provided by the Louisiana Department of Economic Development helped secure the project. The plant employs 80 people, and Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret says it will generate some 300 additional jobs in the area. He says Louisiana should derive about $12 million in new state and local taxes from the project during the next decade.
 

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