Do Louisiana’s ports need a state authority to drive economic development?

Louisiana could better address a number of challenges facing the state’s ports through statewide coordination using a master plan, reports The Center Square.

Louisiana Legislative Auditor Mike Waguespack issued a report last week that compares the state’s 32 active public ports to those operated in eight other Southern coastal states.

Louisiana ranked first for waterborne tonnage passing through its ports up until 2019, when it was surpassed by Texas.

Eight of the state’s ports were ranked in the top 100 in 2021, when Louisiana ranked second for total freight moved by land, air and water, behind only Texas. The Port of New Orleans, the state’s only international container terminal, ranked 17th in the nation for volume in 2021.

Auditors found Louisiana’s port governance structure differs from the eight other states reviewed, which all use a state port authority or dedicated state-level organization to guide planning and coordination.

“While Louisiana does not have a state port authority that owns and/or operates its own ports or an active port advisory commission, having some type of state coordinating entity could help infrastructure development and planning for ports in Louisiana,” the report reads.

It’s the same with a master or strategic plan. All states reviewed except Louisiana use one.

“Having some type of state master or strategic plan could help the port system coordinate its efforts to drive economic development in the state,” according to a report summary.

Read more about the audit from The Center Square.