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Letter To The Editor: Eric England – Our Business and Civic Leaders say VOTE FOR April 9th Port Renewal

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Our Business and Civic Leaders say VOTE FOR April 9th Port Renewal

The Bossier Parish Policy Jury, the City Council of Bossier City, the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, the North Louisiana Economic Partnership and the Committee of One Hundred, Inc. along with the Caddo Parish Commission, City Council of the City of Shreveport, Shreveport Chamber of Commerce and Shreveport Bossier African American Chamber of Commerce have all adopted resolutions of support for the Port’s property tax renewal.  Why? What if an investment you made returned 17:1 and you had an opportunity to double your investment?  Your Port has strategically and carefully managed the citizens’ of Bossier and Caddo Parishes $88 million investment in their Port since 1993 and returned $1.5 billion of infrastructure and capital investment, a 17:1 return on investment.

Coupled with this return are the jobs that have been created and retained at the 17 diverse companies located at the Port’s 2,300-acre facility. Every day, at least 1,700 arrive for work earning competitive wages and benefits to support themselves and their families. In addition to these 1,700 area citizens, there have also been 6,800 jobs created to support these companies and positions, bringing the total employment to 8,500. When the Port set forth plans to pass a property tax in 1993, the visionaries of that time estimated 5,000 jobs would be created. Of the property tax already collected, your Port has carefully managed its expenses to utilize the maximum amount for capital expenditures and not day-to-day operational expenses. 2000 was the last year for the Port to utilize property tax revenues for the day-to-day operations. Since that time, 100% of the property tax has been spent on capital projects and debt reduction. It is our goal for this to continue with the renewal.

The Port will be on the April 9th ballot to renew its existing property tax of 2.5 mils. You may be asking yourself, why does the Port need a renewal? Of the 2,300 acres at the Port, we only have 700 acres remaining to lease to companies. This is a critically low number from an economic development standpoint. Of the 700 acres, the largest, shovel ready, industrial site, is only 120 acres.  The expansion plan of the Port will use the proceeds to purchase and develop an additional 3,000 acres of land in both Bossier and Caddo parishes.

We know land will cost between $30 and $60 million and we will spend an equal amount on items such as roads, railroads and utilities developing the newly acquired property. Of the 3,000 acres purchased, we plan to develop at least two 500-acre tracts to be marketed to major industries just as we did with Benteler Steel and Pratt Paper. In developing raw land, at least 1/3 of the land purchased will be utilized for infrastructure.

If you calculate the future jobs created by this additional investment based on our track record, total direct and indirect employment could be 15,000.

Yet, the Port is not only actively recruiting new businesses to the area, they assist and support their 17 tenants with their expansion plans.  The Port also works collaboratively with the municipalities and other economic development entities towards retaining existing companies not located at the Port but are part of our 2 parishes. Three examples are Northwest Pipe in Bossier City and Tire Rack and Coca-Cola in Shreveport.
Bossier Parish Community College’s $22 million, 65,000 square-foot Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Technologies is a result of the Port’s partnership with Benteler. Initially the center will train workers for Benteler’s project. After Benteler’s training needs are met, Bossier Parish Community College’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Technologies will then support training efforts for other manufacturers in NW Louisiana, increasing the capacity of our local workforce, and further making our area more attractive to future developments.

The Port is thankful for the support from Bossier and Caddo parishes and it is our goal to continue providing a sound return on the citizen’s investment for decades to come.

Eric England, Executive Port Director
Port of Caddo-Bossier