Jindal backs bill to help Port Fourchon

06 27, 2013 by Houma Courier

Louisiana ports, including Port Fourchon, could see a surge of economic development under a tax exemption bill Gov. Bobby Jindal signed Wednesday at the Greater Lafourche Port Commission in Galliano.

“Today is a great day for Louisiana’s ports,” Jindal said. “Here in our state, we know that ports equal jobs, and the legislation we’re signing into law today will go a long way toward strengthening ports across our state and creating opportunities for our people.”

Senate Bill 122 modifies the state investor and import-export tax credits by expanding the types of projects that qualify for exemptions. Projects that would qualify include port operations, warehousing and storage, marine cargo handling, ship building and repairs, and oil and gas activities.

The legislation provides incentives for private investment at public ports, said Chett Chiasson, executive director of the Greater Lafourche Port Commission.

“This is really important for us in these times that the state is dealing with when it comes to funding,” Chiasson said. “It’s important for the entire state. It’s particularly important for our Port Fourchon. We’re already seeing projects coming in the near future that do qualify for this tax incentive.”

Last week, the Port Commission signed a cooperative endeavor agreement with Bollinger Shipyards that would allow the company to be the first to take advantage of the credits, Chiasson said.

The bill authorizes Louisiana Economic Development to grant a credit when it determines a project will have a “significant positive economic impact.” It also allows the import-export tax credit for international business based on pre-contract tonnage.

No tax credit under the bill may be granted for a project that exceeds $2.5 million per tax year, and the total amount of tax credits granted is capped at $6.25 million per fiscal year.

The bill takes effect July 1, 2014, and has a sunset clause of Jan. 1, 2020.

Ports across the state have already received $123 million through the state Department of Transportation and Development’s port priority program since 2008, Jindal said.

“If we’re going to remain competitive and keep creating jobs for our people, we need to redirect Louisiana cargo through Louisiana ports, creating a new critical mass of cargo that attracts new shipping services, distribution and warehousing services, and infrastructure investment,” Jindal said. “This legislation will do just that, ultimately moving our economy forward.”

The bill was authored by Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma, who said it means greater employment.

“It will provide more jobs for Louisianians in our energy sector and increase the shipping of goods through our waterways,” Chabert said.

Lafourche Parish Councilman Jerry Lafont said he supports the bill because it’s good for Port Fourchon.

“Anything that helps the port — I will back it 100 percent,” Lafont said.