Parish president, ED director leaving for China in hopes of snaring industry
St. Mary Parish President Paul Naquin and Economic Development Director Frank Fink will be departing Saturday on an 8-day trip that will take them first to San Francisco and then China in the hopes of attracting major industry.
Naquin told the parish council Wednesday that he expects to get a letter of intent from a manufacturer of green modular housing that is interested in location at the industrial park on the Charenton Navigation and Drainage Canal.
Fink said he and Naquin have been working for about a year with the San Francisco group that finds the area attractive due to its access to the Intracoastal Waterway and its connection with the Mississippi River, U.S. 90 and the railway.
Fink also introduced the council to Musheer Robinson, a global trading consultant from Baton Rouge.
Robinson said he will be making the trip with Naquin and Fink to meet with representatives of the China Development Bank that has “made a decision to invest in public/private partnerships.”
The goal of the meetings is establish an offshore deep-water port here, he said. Such a port would link the U.S. with trade corridors in Asia and the Panama Canal while providing fabrication jobs locally.
“The question is, are we going to do it here or are the Mississippi folks going to have it?” Robinson said.
Some of the developers involved in the plans include the Louis Berger Group and Kiewit.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for relocation of businesses that will come here to assemble,” he said. “It seems that we have all the stars aligned.”
Chief Administrative Officer Henry “Bo” LaGrange estimated the cost of the trip for Naquin and Fink at $20,000 which he said has already been set aside in travel expenses of the general fund.
In other business Wednesday the council:
—Told Franklin Mayor Raymond Harris they are willing to provide a $120,000 allocation to help fund upgrades on four sewer lift stations that serve unincorporated areas of the parish as well as in the city limits. Total cost of the project is $450,000.
—Heard from Rep. Sam Jones (D-Franklin) on project fundings made available during the last legislative session.
—Heard from St. Mary Landmarks President Pam Heffner who clarified that the recent $1,000 allocation to that organization from the council will fund the purchase of period costumes for the use in education programs at local schools.
—Heard from Mark Bogan of Verdunville who again asked that the council consider sponsoring a Veterans Day dinner.
—Bid farewell to council clerk Kim Pusateri who is retiring after serving 34 years with the parish.
The council also approved the following resolutions:
—Engineering contracts on parish pump station safe rooms; Boudreaux Street and Gilmore Drive drainage projects; and Pump Station 2 and 2A drainage improvements.
—Contracts with the state Department of Health and Hospitals relative to Fairview Treatment Center.
—Abolishment of the Bayou Vista Streets Advisory Committee.
—Memorandums of understanding on the financial responsibilities for the wind retrofit projects at the Morgan City Fire Station, Franklin Fire Station and the St. Mary Parish School Board building.
—A change order and notice of substantial completion on Phase 4 of improvements at the Jessie Fontenot Memorial Boat Launch, Phase IV.
Financial requests approved included the redirection of a previous $11,600 allocation to Recreation District 7 to Community Action Agency for the Verdunville summer youth program, (Councilman Glen Hidalgo, District 4); and $3,000 from Wards 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 10 three-tenths sales tax fund to the St. Joseph summer youth program (Councilman Charles Middleton, District 2.)