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Port President Predicts Strong Business Outlook

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Port of New Orleans
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A week after telling President Obama what the Port of New Orleans needs to succeed, Port President Gary LaGrange told maritime interests that its future is bright. The port is zeroing in on the White House direction to boost exports.

Port President Gary LaGrange delivered his annual State of the Port address this week, firing off the stats he told President Obama.

“Three billion dollars in federal taxes paid to the federal government because of the Port of New Orleans annually; 380,000 people have gainful jobs in America because of the Port of New Orleans," he said. "And [the President] stopped me right there and put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘This is not the first time you’ve said this, is it?’ I said no.”   

LaGrange says the port is in its third consecutive record-breaking year. Last year the port handled 2 million tons of chemicals, and in the first six months of this year shows a 35 percent increase over the same period in 2012.

LaGrange says future projects expected to increase port business include the revamped Riverwalk shopping center and more cruise passengers.

He says the port will continue pushing to dredge the Mississippi River to 50 feet to accommodate more shipping — because he says it’s cost effective.

“The cost is not astronomical, especially if you’re talking to the president or the secretary of transportation. It’s roughly $300 million in initial costs and $90 million in maintenance every year thereafter," said LaGrange. "When you’re talking about a cost-benefit ratio of 89.4 to 1, we don’t think that’s a lot to ask.”   

LaGrange says the port will continue plans to handle more container cargo expected when the Panama Canal expansion is finished in 2015.

Eileen is a news reporter and producer for WWNO. She researches, reports and produces the local daily news items. Eileen relocated to New Orleans in 2008 after working as a writer and producer with the Associated Press in Washington, D.C. for seven years.