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New business coming to Port of Iberia

Three businesses are negotiating to relocate to the Port of Iberia, according to several people involved in the negotiations. If the deals go through, it would mean new jobs and new infrastructure spending in Iberia Parish.

The port’s board of commissioners gave Executive Director Craig Romero final approval last week to finalize leasing contracts with the three companies.

Caliche New Iberia, LLC, which is actually based in Houston, plans to spend more than $130 million in infrastructure building at the port, extending rail spurs into parts of the port and adding additional slips. Romero is uncertain as to how many new, long-term jobs they may create — much of what they do is automated — but all of that infrastructure building will mean a lot of short-term construction work. They plan to establish an intermodal loading and unloading facility on 50 acres at the port.

“It’s a big deal for the port and for the community,” said David Branch, a spokesman for Caliche. “The area has great resources in terms of personnel and location. The labor pool is strong, and the Port of Iberia is a great conduit to the rest of the country.”

Branch estimates about 20 long-term jobs will be created. Caliche would also be storing natural liquid gases, known as NLGs, deep below the surface of a nearby bayou. Romero hopes to have a contract signed by the end of the month.

Port Aggregates meanwhile would be crushing concrete on the site, running over 150 concrete trucks in and out of the port, according to Romero. They will use the port to barge in limestone to make concrete with.

“They determined this was the most logistically cost effective place for them to be,” said Romero, “and we’re happy to have them.”

He said that contract should be finalized by Aug. 30.

Crosby Energy Services, based in Houma, is looking at renting 15 acres and a 30,000-plus square foot facility at the port. Romero said the company would create 50 jobs within the first six months, eventually reaching 70, but representatives from Crosby would not confirm this.

“The deal isn’t finalized yet, so we really don’t want to put out a number and say we’re bringing this many jobs,” said Kevin Bordelon, a spokesman for Crosby.

The company plans to fabricate ASME-coded pressure vessels at the port and then ship them to operations in North Dakota, Pennsylvania, West Texas and the Gulf of Mexico.

“They’ll need welders, skilled seam welders,” said Romero. “And they’re around here. There’s a similar plant in Broussard that’s running seven days a week and probably can’t keep up, so I know we’ve got the talent.”

If all contracts go through, it would leave only nine and a half acres of unleased space at the port, Romero said, where a recently rehabbed office now sits.

“There is a boat builder that has shown some interest,” he said, “but we’re just in the walking and talking phase right now.”

The port makes around 95 percent of its income from leasing space and facilities there, according to documents provided by Romero.
Source: The Daily Iberian

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