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  April 14th, 2014 | Written by

Port of New Orleans

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Gary LaGrange, President & CEO
FTZ No. 2 • 1,505 total acres • 40 berths • 6 million sq. ft. warehouse space

• 45-ft. channel • ICTF
Highways: I-10, I-12, U.S. 55, U.S. 59, U.S. 90
Top export destinations:  Belgium, Brazil, China
Top export commodities: Chemicals/Resin, Animal/Vegetable Products, Forest Products


Gary LaGrange: I think everybody knows that New Orleans is a world- class port, port city, not only nationally but internationally as well. It’s certainly one of the jewels of the global marketplace from a shipping standpoint and has been for quite a number of years, certainly, if not the oldest, one of the oldest ports in the United States. But beyond all the fun and culture and the cuisine and the world class transportation network, I think one of the things that a lot of people don’t really realize is that New Orleans is really a transportation and logistics hub. The port was just cited recently by another one of the major economic development magazines as the No. 1 logistics port and intermodal port in the United States. So, we pride ourselves in that. It’s a tool in our toolbox that a lot of other ports don’t have. For example, the Mississippi River. We think Thomas Jefferson was a pretty smart guy when he took that deal with Napoleon Bonaparte a little over 200 years ago.

Global Trade: How does that help the Port of New Orleans?

Gary LaGrange: It gave us access to the Mississippi River and all of the tributaries such as the Missouri, the Ohio, the Tennessee, the Arkansas and so on and so forth. What that did was that opened up the Port of New Orleans as a gateway to America and allowed us to serve 62 percent of the consumer spending public of the United States via that waterway. Interestingly enough, following suit on the accessibility of that 14,500-mile navigable waterway, which can reach places as far away as Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, Chicago, Sioux City, Dallas, even Tulsa and Catoosa, Oklahoma, and all points in between, St. Louis, Little Rock; you know, that’s a pretty accessible area and a pretty good market area, if you will. So the railroads caught note of that and they followed suit in the early part of last century and with that we’re now the only deep draft seaport in the United States with six Class 1 railheads located here, of the major railroads. That gives us excellent intermodal connectivity, again, to mid-America, the Breadbasket, up into the Northeast, again via the Ohio and as I said even over as far west as Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Dallas, Texas. And then, of course, the interstate highway system in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s that also came in. We have a good network of interstates that provide great access to the Port of New Orleans. Interstate 10 running east-west, Interstate 55 north-south, I-59 north-south and I-12 as a connector forming an industrial triangle between Baton Rouge and New Orleans and Hammond, Louisiana. In that triangle we have over 100 chemical plants, which allows us to hang our hat on a lot of our exports, causing us to be one of the top five exporting areas in the United States.

When we think of New Orleans, we tend to think of Mardi Gras, culture, cuisine, fun, Super Bowls, this year’s NBA All-Star Game and always a festival that’s going on—the Jazz Fest, the French Quarter Fest—and great music. Some of the things that people never think about is how really, really, really accessible New Orleans is to the rest of the market area in the United States. And, by the way, we are building a new airport which should be completed sometime between 2018 and 2020. So that even lends one more factor to the transportation system. We have 12 very, very viable pipelines that run out of here up into Canada and into the northern parts of the United States allowing for, with the hydraulic fracking system, the movement of both natural gas and crude from north to south by barge into our refineries located all up and down the lower Mississippi River.

Beyond all of the food and the lore and the culture and cuisine and everything that goes with it, New Orleans is more than just a fun city. It’s a very accessible city, particularly as far as meeting the demands of the movement commerce in the United States. Then we go back to the culture and the fun of it all. Every day is great. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a fun place to live, just a lot of good things going on always. I’ve got friends from out of town and here we are putting in a really good work day today catching up on the two days we missed from the cold weather earlier this week. I am going to leave here at 5 p.m. and go to a quick celebration of my aunt’s 100th birthday and from there to a new restaurant that’s just opened in the French Quarter with some other friends from out of town. So we work hard but we play hard too. It’s a good place to live.

GT: Were you born and raised in Louisiana?

GL: Yes, I sure was.