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Consultant says company eyeing Port Manchac

By LAUREN LANGLOIS staffwriter@hammondstar.com

The marketing consultant for South Tangipahoa Parish Port Commission says a company is considering using Port Manchac for transloading a dry bulk product.

The commission heard a report on marketing activities by Gary LaGrange at its meeting Tuesday. He said the company cannot be named for confidentiality reasons, but he said it is from southwest Louisiana and the product is made in the state.

"They're looking for a site for transloading," he said. "It's a dry bulk product."

He said he can divulge the name if and when the company commits to a contract. Representatives want to see the site and meet with the commission soon, he said. The parties would negotiate the length of the contract.

The product is not hazardous and would come in primarily by in-land barge, he said. It would then be packed and transloaded by either truck, train or barge, depending on the destination. LaGrange said Port Manchac's 9-foot depth is enough to handle the company's barges.

Commissioner James Nelson asked him if the company is considering Port of New Orleans. LaGrange said he believes the company would be deterred by the congestion and the higher cost at the New Orleans port.

Also, commissioners agreed to extend LaGrange's contract for six months starting this month. Originally, the resolution called for a year extension, but commissioners opted for six months to avoid the possibility of having two consultants.

The commission is seeking proposals from firms to do a highest and best use study to determine the best ways to utilize the facility, and that could involve hiring a consultant. The study will also include public input meetings to hear what stakeholders want from the port. The deadline for proposals for the study is April 8.