Channel has $39B economic impact, Marine cargo activity supports 158,485 jobs nationwide

Published 11:17 am Tuesday, December 21, 2021

By John Guidroz

American Press

An economic study commissioned by the Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District reveals that the Calcasieu Ship Channel’s activity in 2020 had a $39 billion total economic value nationwide, $29 billion in Louisiana and $12 billion in the Lake Charles Metropolitan Statistical Area.

“The Economic Impacts of the Calcasieu Ship Channel,” done by Martin and Associates, was presented to Port of Lake Charles board members Monday. More than 150 firms, including tenants and service providers, were interviewed.

John Martin said via Zoom that the ship channel supports 67 percent of the MSA’s gross domestic product, as well as 13.2 percent of the state GDP.

Marine cargo activity at the ship channel supported 158,485 jobs nationwide, of which 108,773 were created in Louisiana and 42,075 jobs were created in the Lake Charles MSA. The jobs in the Lake Charles MSA, which includes Calcasieu and Cameron parishes, represent 45.5 percent of total MSA employment, he said.

More than 13,200 direct job holders earned an average salary of nearly $94,000, according to the study. That’s more than double the average annual earnings statewide, Martin said.

Looking at personal income, there was a $14.5 billion national impact, a $9.3 billion statewide impact and $3.7 billion impact in the Lake Charles MSA.

The ship channel’s value also includes $2.6 billion in federal taxes and $1.5 billion in state and local taxes nationally, Martin said. There is also $10.3 million in U.S. Customs revenue and $7 million in Harbor Maintenance Tax revenue.

Martin said the ship channel also provides more than $1 billion in national environmental, safety and infrastructure benefits annually. That includes $754.4 million in savings on emissions, $100.3 million on safety and $206.8 million in infrastructure.

Martin said the study also researched the roughly $46 billion in new industrial projects planned along the Calcasieu Ship Channel over the next five years. Projects include Venture Global LNG, the Cameron LNG expansion, Driftwood LNG, Magnolia LNG and others. Once all the projects are fully built out, it would add 90.8 million tons of cargo to the ship the channel annually, he said.

“That shows a significant impact,” Martin said.

The findings from the study and these planned industrial projects show just how important it is to properly dredge the Calcasieu Ship Channel, Martin said.

“It’s a significant impact on the national economy,” he said. “Without maintaining the channel, in some cases maybe deepening the channel, those projects are not going to come to fruition.”

Board members also approved the port’s operating, non-operating and capital budgets for 2022. The board also approved entering into a cooperative endeavor agreement with the state to receive $6.2 million in port relief funding. During this year’s legislative session, lawmakers approved allocating $50 million to the Louisiana Port Relief Fund, which is tied to the American Rescue Plan Act.