Port set to grow industry; Company officials talk projects, expansion

Published 1:14 am Saturday, September 6, 2014

NATCHEZ — Natchez-Adams County’s port businesses said Friday they are in the process of expanding or are eyeing future growth.

Speaking before the weekly Friday Forum, representatives of Great River Industries, von Drehle and Genesis Energy gave an update on projects in the port area.

GRI Vice President for Business Development Aaron Shermer said the steel fabrication facility on Moran Road has more than 200 employees now.

Email newsletter signup

The company recently announced it will move its corporate headquarters to Natchez, and in the last year has expanded its tank head fabrication facility.

“We have about 170 craft people, about 25 staff and 10 upper management in Natchez right now,” Shermer said.

“Obviously we are expanding, and we are going to expand until they say, ‘We can’t take any more tank heads.’ We are getting ready to announce another expansion in our facility, to build a pipe fabrication facility for the natural gas market — and we are looking forward to it, to offering more good jobs.”

Tanya Richardson with von Drehle said the company has 40 of what will eventually be 120 employees, and has been upgrading the facility in advance of installing a paper-manufacturing machine.

“We have not broken ground yet, but we are pretty close,” she said. “Obviously we will have a lot of folks and employment opportunities, so we are excited about that.”

The site manager for Genesis Energy, Andy Anderson, said the company — which transports oil products through the port — is working on a truck loading station and a dock project.

“As you complete one project, you add one more, and after four years of doing that, I think we will probably have more,” he said.

Genesis has increased the employee headcount from three to 30 since it converted the former Tessenderlo Davison Chemical terminal into an unloading and loading facility for the energy industry, Anderson said.

Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ said GRI, von Drehle and Genesis Energy represent approximately $230 million in investment that is in the ground at the port today or in the process of being realized.

“In addition to that, Elevance will invest over $200M in the ground in that facility,” Russ said.

“They have already begun some construction on that facility, they have started the cleanout of older equipment. It is different type of construction than stick and brick construction going on out there. It’s piping, racks. It is busy out at the port, and it will stay busy.”

Friday Forum is a weekly presentation of topics of interest hosted by the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce and Alcorn State University.