Governor Edwards recognizes $ 1.6 million US Department of Commerce award for Louisiana SmartPort initiative


Today, Governor John Bel Edwards announced that the State of Louisiana SmartPort initiative is the recipient of a $ 1.6 million grant from the US Economic Development Administration. This federal award will be matched with $ 1.4 million from state and port partners for the $ 3 million project that will improve ports on the Mississippi River in Louisiana with next-generation marine technology.

“With the SmartPort initiative, Louisiana is playing a leading role in improving the technological efficiency of maritime commerce,” said Governor Edwards. “Louisianans are keenly aware of the vital role the Mississippi River plays in our history, our economic successes and our future. This grant from the US Economic Development Administration is a statement that they too understand the role that safe and efficient river transport plays in the wider US economy. With the support of ports along the river, the SmartPort program will help us set a new standard in safety and emergency management.

First announced in July 2020, the SmartPort initiative is designed to streamline operations and improve security through real-time data shared by port administrators, tenants, shippers and suppliers of warehouses, freight and land transport. The program comprehensively assesses navigation, coastal issues and flood risk along the Mississippi River. In addition, the program will ultimately support efforts for the proposed river diversion project. The Port of New Orleans, the Port of South Louisiana, and the Port of Grand Baton Rouge are LED’s primary partners in supporting the project, along with other ports and warehouses along the Lower Mississippi River.

“President Biden is committed to unleashing all power of the federal government to ensure that our nation not only recovers from this pandemic, but rebuilds itself better,” said US Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “SmartPort will use data and analytics to improve business continuity and preparedness, which will allow Louisiana ports to better respond to disasters and prepare for future economic challenges. “

The SmartPort program includes a decision support tool to forecast waves and shoals at port facilities along the Mississippi River, which will facilitate port operations and navigation. The real-time shoal forecasting tool will be part of a suite of meteorological, river and road analyzes to improve port efficiency and support ports against threats from natural disasters and economic uncertainties. SmartPort builds on the work done for the Shoaling Forecast Tool, instituted by the Port of New Orleans.

“The Institute is honored to partner with the State of Louisiana, our world-class network of ports on the Mississippi River and the Economic Development Administration on SmartPort,” said Justin Ehrenwerth, President and CEO from The Water Institute. “Together, we will create innovative new tools while leveraging decades of knowledge and investment to manage the Mississippi River for navigation, flood risk reduction and coastal restoration. We look forward to sharing this knowledge with our state and federal partners as we collectively bring a holistic perspective to the river. ”

In addition to the major ports of the Port of New Orleans, the Port of South Louisiana and the Port of Grand Baton Rouge, the announced grant will support the launch of the SmartPort program at the ports of Lake Providence, Madison, Vidalia, St. Bernard and Plaquemines. Development of the initiative will require contractual assistance, and a request for proposal is expected in the near future for back-end platform developers. The completed SmartPort program is expected to go live in early 2022.

“The Port of New Orleans appreciates the support of the US Department of Commerce and its $ 1.6 million grant,” said Brandy D. Christian, President and CEO of the Port of New Orleans. “Each of the SmartPort Initiative partners recognizes the Mississippi River as a critical economic artery that generates economic benefits throughout the state and country. The strategic application of SmartPort’s analytics technology will help us all more fully and safely exploit business opportunities while better understanding the behavior of rivers. We appreciate Governor Edwards’ leadership on all maritime projects and look forward to working with our partners SmartPort, Louisiana Economic Development and the Water Institute of the Gulf, as this important initiative grows.

“SmartPort is such an innovative idea that will improve the ease of doing business and attracting businesses to the Mississippi River,” said Paul Aucoin, executive director of the Port of South Louisiana.

About LED
Louisiana Economic Development is responsible for strengthening the state’s business environment and creating a more vibrant economy in Louisiana. LED cultivates jobs and economic opportunities for Louisiana residents and promotes business opportunities for employers of all sizes. In 2019, LED attracted more than 80 new economic development projects representing 12,300 new jobs, 15,500 retained jobs and more than $ 8.4 billion in new capital investments. LED’s Small Business Services team helped over 9,500 Louisiana small businesses and entrepreneurs in 2019. For more information, visit

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