Former Avondale Shipyards is back in business as Avondale Global Gateway

Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 6:12 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Along the Mississippi River on the west bank of Jefferson Parish, giant yellow cranes signal a revival of commerce at a location that once was a major driver of Louisiana’s economy.

The former Avondale Shipyards which helped thousands of blue-collar workers earn big salaries is now back in commerce and a grand reopening ceremony was held for what is now Avondale Global Gateway.

Adam Anderson is Chairman and CEO of T. Parker Host which purchased the shuttered shipyard.

“In October 2018, we took title to this idle shipyard, it was covered with weeds, derelict buildings and abandoned work spaces,” said Anderson. “Our vision was and remains to turn this shipyard into a multi-modal logistics hub and that means having ships, railcars, barges, using the unique confluence of land, river, road and rail, not only handling cargo but adding value to that cargo right here.”

As a shipyard Avondale not only created thousands of jobs but did work for the U.S. Defense Department.

Jerry Bologna is CEO of JEDCO, an economic development entity.

“It’s well recognized that this site created the middle class in this region, employing thousands at a time. Some of the U.S. military’s finest ships and vessels were crafted right here.”

After the shipyard it was not smooth sailing, in terms of rehabilitating the sprawling property including high river levels which affected construction, the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Ida.

Still, T. Parker Host has invested $100 million in the redevelopment of the site.

“When we took over here in 2018 there were four jobs on site now we have 300 jobs full-time here and daily 500 people directly spend some part of their work day here,” said Anderson.

Governor John Bel Edwards says Louisiana has strategic advantages including the Mississippi River and is seizing new opportunities.

“The iron is hot and I’m excited and we are striking and not just here at Avondale Marine but the work we’re doing at ports all across Louisiana,” said Edwards.

Avondale Global Gateway has room for more tenants.

“They need to need deep water, to need the rail, to need all the infrastructure here at Avondale but our goal is to have tenants that are adding value to the corridor, that means either repackaging, processing, building, assembling things right here on site from raw materials and then delivering them via the road and rail and river system to the rest of the United States,” said Anderson.

Edwards added, “This type of investment really sets us on a firm foundation to take maximum advantage of that.”

Some former Avondale Shipyards employees are now working for the new company and some higher skilled workers can earn up to $100,000 a year.

The state, Jefferson Parish and others were also critical to making the transformation of the shipyard a reality.

“The JEDCO Board of Commissioners and the Jefferson Parish Council supported a competitive incentive package which helped facilitate Avondale Marine’s acquisition of this property, this was no easy task,” said Bologna. “If you were around at the time, you know this required the participation of the governor’s office, ports, railroads, the Department of the Navy, the Corps of Engineers.”

With the addition of new tenants, it is expected that Avondale Global Gateway will eventually create 2,300 direct jobs.

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