NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – Along the Mississippi River on the west bank of Jefferson Parish, giant yellow cranes signal a resurgence of commerce in a place that was once a major driver of Louisiana’s economy.
The former Avondale shipyard, which helped thousands of blue-collar workers earn big wages, is now back in business and a grand reopening ceremony was held for what is now the Avondale Global Gateway.
Adam Anderson is chairman and CEO of T. Parker Host, which bought the shuttered site.
“In October 2018, we took title to this vacant shipyard, it was overgrown with weeds, abandoned buildings and abandoned work spaces,” Anderson said. “Our vision was and remains to turn this shipyard into a multimodal logistics center and that means having ships, railcars, barges, using the unique combination of land, rivers, roads and railways, not only for handling goods, but adding value to that cargo. right here.”
As a shipyard, Avondale not only created thousands of jobs, but also worked for the US Department of Defense.
Jerry Bologna is the CEO of JEDCO, an economic development unit.
“It is well known that this site created the middle class in this region, employing thousands at a time. Some of the US military’s finest ships and vessels were created right here.”
After the shipyard, it was not smooth sailing in terms of rehabilitating the large property, including high river levels that impacted construction, the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Ida.
However, T. Parker Host has invested $100 million in redeveloping the site.
“When we took over here in 2018, there were four jobs on the ground now we have 300 full-time jobs here and every day 500 people directly spend part of their workday here,” Anderson said.
Governor John Bel Edwards says Louisiana has strategic advantages including the Mississippi River and is seizing new opportunities.
“The iron is hot and I’m excited and we’re great and not just here at Avondale Marine, but the work we’re doing at ports all over Louisiana,” Edwards said.
Avondale Global Gateway has room for more tenants.
“They need deep water, rail, all the infrastructure here in Avondale, but our goal is to have tenants that are adding value to the corridor, which means either repackaging, processing, building, assembling things right here. country from raw materials and then shipping them via road, rail and river systems to the rest of the United States,” Anderson said.
Edwards added, “This type of investment really puts us on a strong foundation to get the most out of this.”
Some former Avondale Shipyards employees are now working for the new company, and some skilled workers can earn up to $100,000 a year.
The state, Jefferson Parish and others were also critical in making the shipyard’s transformation a reality.
“The JEDCO Board of Commissioners and the Jefferson Parish Council supported a competitive incentive package that helped facilitate the acquisition of this property by Avondale Marine, which was no easy task,” Bologna said. “If you were there at the time, you know it required the participation of the governor’s office, the ports, the railroads, the Department of the Navy, the Corps of Engineers.”
With the addition of new tenants, it is expected that Avondale Global Gateway will eventually create 2,300 direct jobs.
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