Major ports and roads remain closed after hurricane makes landfall

Hurricane Laura

Key ports and highways across the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast remain closed in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura.

All Port Houston offices and terminals were closed Thursday, according to the port’s website. The Port of Beaumont in southeast Texas will be closed until Monday, according to a statement, and the Port of Galveston in Texas remains closed through Friday.

The Port of Corpus Christi in Texas was open and operating normally Thursday, according to its staff.

Calls to the nearby seaport in Port Arthur, Texas, went unanswered. It wasn’t known if the port was open or sustained damage in the storm.

Officials with Crane Worldwide Logistics said Port Houston was lucky not to sustain any serious damage from the hurricane.

“Where we have operations, we hardly had any rain,” Chad Taylor, executive vice president of global operations for Houston-based Crane Worldwide Logistics told FreightWaves/American Shipper. “If the storm had come into Houston as a Category 4, it could have been extremely bad for us.”

The Port of New Orleans’ cargo terminals were operating normally Thursday morning, according to its website. Louisiana’s Port of Baton Rouge also was open for business Thursday, its staff said.

The Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast is the center of the U.S. oil and gas refining system and Gulf of Mexico crude oil production, according to Ben Ruddell, director of the FEWSION project at Northern Arizona University.

“The storm could have a serious impact on oil and gas refining operations across the region,” Ruddell said in a release.

The Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast region accounts for roughly $1 trillion a year in economic production — much of that concentrated in the fuel sector, Ruddell said.

Ports along the Texas Gulf Coast – including Corpus Christi, Galveston, Houston, and Beaumont – also accounts for 23% of wheat exports, 1.5% of corn exports, and 0.5% of soybean exports, according to the Iowa-based Soy Transportation Coalition (STC).

The export facilities along the lower Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and the Gulf of Mexico also account for 60% of soybean exports, 59% of corn exports, and 15% of wheat exports, according to the STC.

Major roadways across the Gulf Coast also continue to be affected by Hurricane Laura.

The eastbound lane of I-10 remained closed at the Texas/Louisiana state line Thursday, and I-10 westbound was closed west of the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana.

To detour the closure, motorists should use U.S. Highway 61, Interstate 55 and Interstate 59 and travel north to connect with Interstate 20, according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

However, DOTD officials cautioned that motorists should stay home if possible.

“We have been getting calls about the Interstate and if it’s open. I know we have power lines down along Interstate-10 in southwest Louisiana and on Interstate-49 in Alexandria. Now is not the time to travel and site see damage,” DTOD Secretary Shawn Wilson tweeted Thursday morning.

A chemical plant in Sulphur, Louisiana, caught fire Thursday morning sending thick orange and white smoke billowing into the air over I-10, according to reports. Sulphur is located just off I-10, around 24 miles from the Texas-Louisiana state line.

Both major airports in Houston are operating normally and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport reported little impact from the storm.

Source: FreightWaves

Chick-fil-A and Starbucks Distributor to Move California Headquarters to Texas

Distributor to Move California Headquarters to Texas

A distributor to move its corporate headquarters to Texas from California to centralize its operations. The organization is a distributor to major restaurant chains such as Chick-fil-A, Chipotle and Starbucks.

Quality Custom Distribution is a part of Golden State Foods, and a global supplier to the quick-service restaurant and retail industries. The organization is leasing 10,784 square feet of office space at 2801 Network Blvd. in Frisco, Texas. Frisco is 27 miles north of downtown Dallas, for its headquarters. It sets the new office to open in January 2020.

The company expects some employees to move from California to Texas with the corporate headquarters. Also, they have plans to "provide a variety of new jobs," at the Dallas-area office.

The company has already begun posting job openings in Frisco, which include finance, accounting, customer service and purchasing positions. Quality Custom Distribution has 17 active job postings on online job websites. Officials were not immediately available to comment beyond a statement.

The move from Irvine, California, helps centralize the company's corporate operations. It better aligns and supports its distribution center market and its customers, said Ryan Hammer, corporate vice president and president of Golden State Foods Logistics.

The distributor to move from California Headquarters to Texas will grow its distribution network and secure its position as a main player in the food industry. The Dallas-area's central location, large talent pool, and business-friendly community fed into the decision to move to the North Texas region said, Hammer.

The company's distribution network includes two centers in Texas, one in the Dallas area and another in San Antonio. The Dallas-area location sits in Lancaster at 3900 N. Dallas Ave., which is 14 miles south of downtown Dallas. According to CoStar data, Quality Custom Distribution leases about 55,000 square feet of industrial space in the building.

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Binational pact aims to keep industrial plants in border region

Binational Pact

Brownsville officials were among Rio Grande Valley economic development leaders who signed a bi-national collaboration agreement on March 5 between South Texas and the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico, aimed at boosting economies on both sides of the border.

The initiative was led by the Rio South Texas Economic Council and the Ministry of Economic Development of the state government of Tamaulipas, with the signing ceremony in Weslaco. Besides officials from Brownsville, also participating were economic development leaders from Alamo, Donna, Edinburg, Harlingen, Hidalgo, Laredo, McAllen, Mission, Palmview, Pharr, Roma, Rio Grande City, San Benito, Sullivan City and Weslaco.

From the Mexican side, in addition to Matamoros, were leaders from Altamira, Camargo, Ciudad Victoria, Diaz Ordaz, Guerrero, Madero, Mier, Miguel Aleman, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa, Rio Bravo, Tampico and Valle Hermoso.

According to RSTEC, the agreement is intended to strengthen investment recruitment and job creation in communities north and south of the Rio Grande.

Mario Lozoya, executive director of the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation and one of the agreement's signatories, said the agreement was forged partly in response to a situation with U.S.-owned maquiladoras (industrial plants) in Matamoros that has prompted some of them to relocate to the United States or Mexico's interior.

A mandate from Mexico's new president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, doubling the minimum wage along a narrow strip of the country's northern border, led to a dispute between labor unions demanding higher wages for employees making above minimum wage and "maquila" management, who refuse to raise wages, arguing that their employees were already making the wages Obrador sought to bring about.

Another piece of Obrador's northern-border program entailed slashing the value-added tax on maquilas in the border region so they could afford the wage increase. At any rate, tens of thousands of maquila workers have walked off the job in Matamoros.

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Mexico Trade Spurs Largest Regional Spec Build

Laredo, TX

Laredo, TX is the third largest port in the U.S. after Los Angeles, and New York City and 60% of U.S. / Mexico trade occurs in Laredo, TX. Last year trade in Laredo surpassed $300 billion. This robust trade has driven the need for the largest regional class-A industrial spec space to be developed. It is no wonder why international companies are looking to Laredo to establish logistics operations.

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Published in GlobeSt.com