Gov. Bobby Jindal and New Orleans Cold Storage President and CEO Mark Blanchard dedicated a new 142,000-square-foot cold storage facility at the Port of New Orleans. The $40 million project, funded by the State of Louisiana and the Port of New Orleans, will create 125 new jobs with an average salary of $50,000, plus benefits. The project will result in an estimated additional 70 indirect jobs, while the port estimates an annual economic impact of $126 million related to the cold storage facility operations.
Established in 1886, New Orleans Cold Storage and Warehousing LLC, or NOCS, is the oldest cold storage company in North America. It is one of the largest suppliers of beef, poultry and pork exports in the nation and one of the port's two biggest customers. Among other products, NOCS handles nearly half of the poultry exported from Louisiana farmers to destinations such as Russia, Eastern Europe, and Africa.
Gov. Jindal said, "Today's announcement is great news not only for New Orleans, but for our entire state. The new facility is a symbol of the resilience of the City of New Orleans and Louisiana. The project shows that we may have been knocked down by Hurricane Katrina, but we were committed to getting up and rebuilding better than before. New Orleans Cold Storage is a Louisiana company through and through, and even when extremely hard times hit, this company stayed true to its Louisiana roots. Instead of packing up and moving to another state, New Orleans Cold Storage chose to stay put and rebuild their operations right here in Louisiana. Even after sustaining devastating damage after Hurricane Katrina and being recruited to rebuild in other states, New Orleans Cold Storage chose to stay and reinvest in New Orleans because of Louisiana's strong business climate, world class workforce and manufacturing and transportation infrastructure."
The Henry Clay Avenue Wharf facility can store 38 million pounds of poultry and beef and has the capacity to blast-freeze 1.25 million pounds of product each day. Of the new jobs, 60 employees will work within the cold storage facility while another 65 positions will be engaged in stevedoring, or the loading and unloading of cargo. The company operates two other New Orleans sites on Jourdan Road and Alvar Street, along with cold storage sites in Houston and Charleston, S.C.
Due to Hurricane Katrina, NOCS lost 52 million pounds of product in three warehouses and 80 percent of the company's local workforce had to be laid off while repairs could be made. When the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet closed after the storm, the future of NOCS was in doubt because the company no longer could operate at full capacity with the loss of its primary shipping outlet. A $23.5 million Community Development Block Grant that was part of the state's disaster recovery program helped cover much of the cost for the new $40 million warehouse in a prime shipping location. The remaining $16.5 million came from the Port of New Orleans, which owns the terminal and leases it to NOCS.
"We have reached the end of a long road traveled since Hurricane Katrina, and we are poised for growth," said NOCS President and CEO Mark Blanchard. "The storm and subsequent closing of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet made it uncertain whether we could keep operations in New Orleans open. But with the help of the State and the Port of New Orleans, we are expanding by opening our new state-of-the-art terminal at the Henry Clay Avenue Wharf."
The new terminal incorporates the latest environmental technology to reduce energy costs and to increase efficiency. There is space to berth two ships and the ability to load perishable products into containers and to transfer the cargo to the nearby Port of New Orleans container terminal for ocean transport.
"Failure was not an option," said Port of New Orleans President and CEO Gary LaGrange. "We never gave up because we knew we had to build this terminal to retain cargo that is essential to the health of the Port of New Orleans. But this new terminal represents so much more than simply replicating the capacity we lost to Katrina. We've built stronger and smarter. Our investment will allow the Port of New Orleans and NOCS to grow its cargo volumes and offer unparalleled services to shippers."
Commissioner Mike Strain of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry helped secure the CDBG funds, $10 million of which had been tapped for restoring critical farm infrastructure. The remaining $13.5 million had been designated for economic revitalization after Hurricane Katrina.
"With Louisiana being a major producer of poultry, the expansion of New Orleans Cold Storage will keep Louisiana products fresher and ready for market," Strain said. "From an economic standpoint, this provides jobs to our residents working at the storage facility, keeps our poultry industry valued at more than $1.6 billion dollars, and it benefits our ports. Agriculture is one of the biggest industries in our state and we will continue to support our farmers and the industry that feeds our people."
NOCS is a premier logistics provider specializing in import and export services for food processors and distributors. Operating from three key port facilities on the Southeast seaboard and Gulf of Mexico, NOCS offers a one-stop export process, including transportation to the port, blast freezing and warehousing, certification and documentation, plus stevedoring (loading of the break-bulk vessels). An equally seamless service streamlines inbound shipments destined for U.S. markets. Since 1886, NOCS has been the door to the world for international food companies. The NOCS business model of market-specific facilities provides greater operating efficiency and professional expertise at the warehouse level. Such markets include the panhandle of Florida to the west Gulf Coast of Texas, Central and South America, the Pacific Basin, the Australian-New Zealand trade, the Peoples Republic of China, Africa and the Eastern Bloc countries and Russia. For more information, visit the NOCS website.