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The Vidalia Port Commission is in negotiation with a terminal operator to sublease the facility as it prepares to begin operation.

The announcement was made during a special meeting of the Vidalia Board of Alderman on Thursday (May 20).

Members of the port commission were in attendance.

The name of the terminal operator was not made public at the meeting.

Bryant Killen, Deputy Director of the Vidalia Port, said the terminal operator being considered has been contacted by grain companies interested in the port.

Killen said the port is now in the permitting stage of Phase 2 which involves the creation of a slack water slip. He said the final hurdle will be obtaining permit approval for a seepage analysis as well as an independent peer review.

He said the slack water slip will be cut perpendicular to the river. Five working pads will be constructed.

Industries involving wood pellets, grain, fertilizer and other agriculture related businesses will be the primary targets for recruitment.

The town will sell utilities and all investments made on the pads will be taxable, Killen said.

The town’s share of the slack water slip investment will be 20 percent.

“Container traffic is back on the river,” Mayor Buz Craft said and the port will be able to handle that traffic.

Concordia Economic Development Director Heather Malone said the town’s industrial site  is certified with Louisiana Economic Development as site ready for industry.

“This helps them (LED) market sites and this says the site is shovel ready” and that utilities are available or would be available in a specified time, she said.

“We have state funds to extend infrastructure,” Malone said, noting that the new electrical substation will provide adequate utilities for industrial tenants.

She said the port will add value to the industrial park, noting that while the park has fiber, gas and other essential features that it does not yet have rail.

Port Director Wyly Gilfoil gave aldermen a background on the port development as follows:

1960: The Legislature created the Concordia Parish Port Commission.

1974: An engineering study was commissioned.

1981: The Legislature create the Vidalia Port Commission and suspended the Concordia Parish Port Commission after a study revealed that support for a port came from within the Town of Vidalia and that there was little support outside the town.

1996: The Vidalia Industrial Park was created with the purchase of 40 acres of land from the Rountree family.

2012: The town entered into a cooperative endeavor with the Lake Providence Port for port management assistance.

2013: Another study outlined a master plan for development of the port property.

Gilfoil said the port has $12.5 million provided by the state and $3.8 million appropriated by others for a total investment available of $16.3 million.

Bulk conveyor work was begun with Womack Contractors in 2018. The company has constructed several components of the port.

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