Port of Greater Baton Rouge aims to continue growing

PORT ALLEN, LA (WAFB) - The Port of Greater Baton Rouge is among the top ports in the country and it is looking to keep growing, with the key to it all being Louisiana's exports and the Mississippi River.

Crews with Benedetto's Market spend several hours each day unloading supplies from their West Baton Rouge Parish store off of trucks and onto boats. Businesses like Benedetto's Market are in high demand from ship crews that pass through the Port of Greater Baton Rouge each day.

"It's no difference in a home that someone lives in," said Derek Benedetto with Benedetto's Market. "That's those guys' homes two weeks up to 30 days. So, those guys need food on their vessels just like you need it in your home."

His company is one of several that have popped up recently to serve the port. While they may be on the smaller side, there are much larger projects, like the Louis Dreyfus Company's expansion of the grain elevator.

"This is a major project behind us, probably totaling $150 million of improvements," said Jay Hardman, executive director of the Port of GBR. "A lot of people have gone back to work as a result of this. Long-term effect … a very positive effect on our regional grain-seed growers here in the state of Louisiana. That trickles down to other aspects of the economy."

Hardman also said this port's location on the river makes it harder for other ports to compete.

"I think it's the commodities that Louisiana produce both on the timber and the grain seed side, coupled with the fact that the Mississippi River is a gateway to the world makes it a prime spot to export these type of commodities," Hardman added.

Another business owner said he's happy to be a part of the port's growth and excited about what's to come.

"They're going to be bringing in multiple ships, which in turn brings multiple grain barges down the Mississippi River, which increases the tug boat traffic," said Kim D'Albor with DAL-CO Marine Services. "That means more crews, more groceries, more supplies have to be put out there for those vessels."

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