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Rotarians Learn About The Port of Caddo-Bossier at Weekly Meeting

Rotary Club members gather together to thank Kathy French for speaking about The Port of Caddo-Bossier. Photo taken by John Austin Ford.

July 13, 2017 - The Port of Caddo-Bossier was the program at the Rotary Club of Center's meeting on Tuesday, July 11, 2017 at the John D. Windham Civic Center.

Newly installed Rotary President, Scott Stanfield, introduced Kathy French who is Director of Community Relations for The Port and is a fellow Rotarian.

Kathy French, Director of Community Relations of The Port of Caddo-BossierFrench explained, "There is an expression with ports 'when you've seen one port, you've seen one port' because they all do it differently."

The Port of Caddo-Bossier is a quasi-governmental agency which is supported by government funding but managed by a private board appointed by Caddo Parish, Bossier Parish, Bossier City and Shreveport. However, it is run like a private company and is expected to have a return on its investment. It was formed by the State Legislature in 1962.

French gave some statistics about ports in Louisiana. It has 32 ports and 1 out of every 5 jobs in Louisiana is connected to a port. As far as value of inland waterborne trade, Texas and Louisiana both do over $10 billion in commerce trade.

The J. Bennett Johnston Waterway authorized project otherwise known as the Red River Waterway project was started in 1968, six years after The Port of Caddo-Bossier was formed. The first thing received on the Red River was in 1995. French said, "We are one of the youngest ports around and we have really been growing exponentially since then."

In 2016 the port's barge tonnage by commodity was 52% petroleum, 30% frac media, 14% agricultural, and 4% steel coil. Barge shipping is much more cost effective, safer, and kinder to the environment. Six barges can fit on the Red River which is equal to 90 jumbo rail hoppers or approximately 1 unit train and equal to 348 large semi trucks. The energy efficiency of shipping methods is 514 miles per gallon for barges versus 202 miles per gallon for rail and 59 miles per gallon for trucking. The miles per gallon is calculated on number of miles one ton can be carried per gallon of fuel.

"And this year, in 2017, we have already surpassed our barge tonnage from 2016 by about 14%, which is really incredible but 2016 we also had a flood and 2015 we also had a flood which was the first time in our history as a port that we actually had those sort of problems. But we are definitely bouncing back," commented French.

She continued, "It is really an industrial park area, so, what the main focus is for The Port of Caddo-Bossier is to bring jobs to the community, so, that's their number one focus. How do they do that? They bring in industries. We have 2,300 acres out there, we've got 17 companies right now and 1,700 people that actually come to work out at the port. So, considering we just got started pretty recently we are doing pretty good."

The Port is a multi-modal transportation area. French explained, "It means we can utilize all three modes of transportation interchangeably easy. So, we can take something from a barge, load it directly onto a truck, or load it directly onto a rail-car, or we can take something from a rail-car and load it onto a truck or the barge."

The Port handles everything in-house including all the stevedore, loading and unloading is done by their people.

It has it's own short-line railroad to help bring in additional money. They have the capability to store rail-cars with 20,000 feet of rail storage track and 23 miles of track. All of the operators are FRA (Federal Railroad Administration) certified.

In 2016, the Port rail tonnage by commodity was 45.84% steel coil, 19.99% aggregate, 10.06% fracing media, 5.82% petroleum, 4.70% paper, 4.52% agricultural, 3.87% starch, .97% soda ash, and .70% ingots.

French shared that The Port is an international port with companies such as Ternium, a Latin-America company; Pratt Industries, an Australian company; Ronpak, a family owned company originated in New Jersey; and Benteler, a German company. A new customer to The Port is Nucor Steel, a Texas company, which utilizes The Port for barge transportation only.

Near the end of her presentation French summarized, "One of the things we are always trying to do to get jobs is we are always out there promoting The Port and trying to bring in industry in order to promote growth and jobs."

The Port offers economic benefits for all of Caddo and Bossier Parishes including Foreign Trade Zones (FTZ's), Enterprise Zones, U.S. Customs Port of Entry, and Conduit Bonds. For more information visit online PortCB.com.

Visitors at the meeting were Holly Adams with Focused Care of Center who was invited by Rotarian David Chadwick and Armando Lopez with Farmers State Bank who was invited by Stanfield. Rotarian J.J. Ford brought her son John Austin Ford.