Port closer to foreign trade zone status


MORGAN CITY — Port commissioners Monday gleaned further information regarding the local port’s designation as a foreign trade zone.

The designation — which allows the import of materials by businesses without a duty — may not be as difficult to obtain as previously thought because the enabling legislation already is in place at the state level.

Mike Knobloch of Knobloch Professional Services said the process to declare the virtual area inside the port not in the U.S. required nine months to a year from application to approval.

So far there has been no outlay of money, but the application fee will be $3,200.

It will be a tool to enhance local business and promote future business location here, port commissioners agreed, adding that they will ask the St. Mary Economic Development Office to use the designation to promote the area.

A business constructing and selling merchandise under certain circumstances can request a refund of the duties it pays to import certain materials, but the process typically takes three to four years before money is returned. This designation nullifies the need for that process.

An example is area barite plants, which import their rock from China. Because the facility is a federal trade zone, they can grind the material and send it out while having to pay less in duties. This makes costs for the company more reasonable and allows the company to price its product more competitively.

The board gave Knobloch permission to proceed with the application process.

In other action, the board:

—Agreed to pay its contractor $105,346 for the Youngswood Site Development project, which also was declared substantially complete. When the punch list is completed, the remaining $172,584 will be paid.

—Approved a payment of $23,465 for work on the boat ramp project.

—Approved a partial payment request for $73,372 for work on the rear parking lot. Completion is estimated to be about one month away.

—Approved the reworked attorney agreement changing the firm’s name due to the addition of a partner, but added a provision that Gerard Bourgeois be the only attorney to handle the port’s business.

—Learned that the Letter Report for Designation of Crewboat Cut as the Authorized Channel Instead of Horseshoe Bend requires placement of 1.8 miles of rock to address shoreline erosion concerns on the east bank immediately upstream from Crewboat Cut and that the related Dredge Material Management Plan is en route to the U.S. Corps of Engineers leadership for a signature.

—Learned that the final report on the agitation dredge review is awaiting vessel traffic information and will be submitted for review by the end of the week.

—Heard updates on the fiscal year 2012 TIGER Discretionary Grant Program funding mechanism for local projects. The final application is due March 19.

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