MORGAN CITY — The Port of Morgan City is beginning the process to become one of several ports with the designation of a foreign trade zone, allowing the import of materials by businesses without a duty.
Mike Knobloch, port grant writer, said during Tuesday’s meeting of the Morgan City Harbor and Terminal District that the zone would assist businesses with becoming competitive against foreign companies.
The application to the federal government costs $3,200 and could be complicated by a few factors.
Of the eight or so similarly designated ports in Louisiana, two, Terrebonne and Alexandria, use Morgan City as a port of entry and both are foreign trade zones, potentially limiting Morgan City’s ability to become a foreign trade zone of its own accord.
The government would make the standard higher for Morgan City to become its own zone because it doesn’t want Morgan City competing with existing zones, Knobloch explained.
The Morgan City port could combat this by expanding its boundaries which also would lower the application fee to $1,600, Knobloch said.
A second problem could come in the area of legislation.
The enabling legislation which created the port may or may not allow for it to be designated a foreign trade zone. Such a problem was encountered by Terrebonne and required a visit to the legislature for a language tweak, Knobloch said. Further research is required into the matter.
While the application cost is reasonable, it generally costs $40,000 to $100,000 in attorney fees to shuttle the application through the entire process. Knobloch said the port believes the process can be done in-house. The entire process generally takes about a year from application to designation.
In other action Tuesday, the port board:
—Agreed to fund the 20 percent match ($3 million) required and apply for the fiscal year 2012 discretionary grant for various port improvements.
—Agreed to pay $8,500 for electrical line relocation and $2,500 for sewer line relocation in connection with construction of the boat ramp in the port’s dock area.
—Approved a bid package of $66,761 for parking lot improvements at the port facility.
—Passed a resolution supporting an area request to place St. Mary Levee District President Bill Hidalgo on the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority board.
—Approved right of entry requests from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for surveys concerning the Crewboat Cut bank stabilization project.
—Agreed to have an appraisal on the port facility completed at a cost of $5,000. The last one was completed approximately five years ago.
—Agreed to rent office space to Knobloch Professional Services and GSE Associates at $150 per month each.
—Paid $86,223.95 on the Youngswood site development project.
—Approved an agreement with Moffatt & Nichol subject to minor tweaking.
—Approved a letter of no objection for a Miller Engineers & Associates project on behalf of Central Boat Rentals.