As the Port Commission progresses on its master plan, we will report on the latest developments so please check back often for updates on projects.
Canadaville of Louisiana
Canadian-based auto parts manufacturer, Magna International, has committed to investing $10 million to develop a village in Simmesport on 850 acres of port property. This project came as a surprise to long-time economic development volunteer and president of the Avoyelles Parish Port Commission, Tommy Maddie. “This company is making a huge impact and bringing international exposure to our community,” said Maddie.
This huge blessing came to Avoyelles Parish and the Avoyelles Parish Port in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricanes that hit southeast Louisiana. Canadian millionaire and chairman of Magna International, Frank Stronach, came to the aid of a group of New Orleans evacuees to help build a village and investment in the small town of Simmesport.
Like many other people across the world, Stronach saw the devastation on the news about the impact of hurricane Katrina on New Orleans residents. Within a few days, he was flying residents on company planes to his horseracing training facility in West Palm Beach, Florida. As Stronach and company officials realized the evacuees in their care had no homes or work waiting for them, they began a search for a place in which to start the process of building a new life for them.
About 100 residents from New Orleans 9th Ward, a heavily devastated area, are living and working in a village that is the vision of Stronach’s philanthropic team. Stronach committed to investing $10 million in Canadaville of Louisiana, a self-contained and self-operated community. Though Canadaville will grow in scope over time, it currently has in place 49 trailers on individual parcels of land with porches and modest landscaping; a community center with resources for residents such as computers, workforce training, mental health counseling, and other advisory services; commercial organic farm; catfish farm; pecan orchards; and more planned. The residents themselves are helping to carry out Stronach’s vision for a better life.
Stronach’s $10 million commitment doesn’t come without strings attached; however, the strings are attached to a better life for those that have committed themselves. For his investment, he asked residents of Canadaville to sign a covenant in which they pledged to work toward long-term goals such as seeking out training for a profession, or working to save money to start a small business, or getting a high school education. The residents are also required to perform 8 hours of community service a week.
As the residents have grown as individuals, so are Simmesport and Avoyelles Parish in infrastructure investment. “All the land and infrastructure will remain after the five years are up,” said Tommy Maddie. The company has also offered its business connections and expertise to help develop the Avoyelles Parish Port across the highway.
Magna views this project as not only a hurricane relief effort but a social experiment. There is no model for what Magna is doing; it is creating it as it goes along. And, along the way it is building better lives and investing infrastructure in Avoyelles Parish.
Magna is also developing the Magna Organic Foods and Center of Excellence for Organic Farming for the southern U.S. on its 856-acre site.
In addition, a multi-purpose center serving the parish for a variety of needs including an auditorium with seating for up to 1,100 people; a community center for events; a place of evacuation for up to 300 persons requiring safe shelter from inclement weather; and the capacity to house and feed 3,000 people per day.
Magna allocates up to 2% of its pretax profits to support charitable and non-profit organizations in the areas of health, culture, social, community, education, sport and politics.
For more about Magna International and the Canadaville project click here.
Helena Chemical Company
The first company announced for the Avoyelles Parish Port Industrial Park is Helena Chemical Company headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee. The company will offload liquid fertilizer in a new facility to service a 7-parish market area. It is anticipated to build on a 10-acre parcel in the port industrial park; build four tanks, (one) 1.5 million gallon and (3) 200,000 gallon, to store the liquid fertilizer. Helena Chemical will employ about 19 employees, mostly local residents.
Paragon Casino & Resort
Paragon Casino & Resort, the deluxe casino, resort and conference center located in Marksville, is in the midst of a major expansion that will double the size of it. It will be completed in different stages with final completion by the fall of 2007. The expansion to the resort includes:
- New tower with 205 guest rooms and 25 deluxe suites including a concierge floor;
- Redesigned atrium with a Cajun village with movie theaters, gift shops, lounge and coffee shop;
- Pool with a swim-up bar;
- Full-service spa and fitness room;
- New entertainment and convention center with a 2,500 seat showroom and an additional 8,000 square foot ballroom to seat 500;
- 800-car covered parking garage with atrium walkway to the casino; and a
- New 550-seat buffet.
To find out more about what Avoyelles Parish’s largest employer is doing, please click on the link below. http://www.paragoncasinoresort.com/about/coming.asp