Economic development? Infrastructure? -- it is both

There is much talk these days of economic development, zoning laws and regulatory commissions, but there is one entity, created in 1954 by an act of the legislature that has been enacting all of these items -- Abbeville Harbor and Terminal.

In the 1950s the value of having an operational port was brought before many governmental entities and was eventually created in 1954. The original members, J. C. Vorhoff, Jr, V.H. Schriefer, Andrew Broussard, Stanley Pearson and William Gooch worked to find the best place for the port.

A study was completed in hopes to locate the port on the Vermilion River at Henry Street in Abbeville, but it was later determined that the location would not lend itself to growth within the confines of the city.

A second study was conducted and the current site of the Port of Vermilion, east of Hwy. 82 was chosen.

It is often the case when the topic of economic development is addressed that members of the community think of shopping malls and housing, but the Port of Vermilion, working in the way that it should, has been a constant source of economic development for the area.

With the inclusion of the port, the region of Southwest Louisiana became a contender for industries such as oil and gas, coastal manufacturing and other related offshore necessities.

Not only does it continue to promote economic activities, it has also created an infrastructure in the form of waterways.

Director of the Abbeville Harbor and Terminal, Jay Campbell said that while the development of a port seems like a long process, there has been a constant move forward.

“It is a long process,” Campbell stated. “It has to be that way.”

The biggest factor to progress is money. In order to provide the tenants of the Port of Vermilion everything they need to do business the infrastructure has to be compete.

In 2005 it was reported in the Abbeville Meridional that completion of the Port of Vermilion bulkheading the waterways, would cost $4.4 million or $1800 per linear foot.

Today’s price is nearly triple that cost making the completion of the same amount of area in the $11 million range at $3800 per linear foot.

A common misconception about the port, specifically Abbeville Harbor and Terminal, is that the monies collected for operation and projects come from the entire parish.

It is, in fact, just a district, a portion of the parish.

Still, the entity is continuing to work the mission started all those years ago. Recently bids for another 500 feet of bulkheading were accepted and Abbeville Harbor and Terminal is in the process to award the work.

The next article will contain information about the growth of the port, what is in the works for the future and where they go from here.

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