Economic Impacts: Lake Charles

Lake Charles: New Economic Impact Study Identifies Calcasieu Ship Channel as Leading Economic Driver

A study released by the Lake Charles Harbor and Terminal District underscores the economic impact of the Calcasieu Ship Channel on the Lake Charles region, the state of Louisiana and the nation.

The study, "Economic and Fiscal Impacts of the Calcasieu Ship Channel," concludes that the health of almost half of the Lake Charles metro economy depends on the health of the channel. For instance, nearly one-third of jobs in the Lake Charles metro area are tied to the channel and the port authority. Another example – maritime commerce accounts for 46 percent of the Lake Charles economy’s total $14.8 billion of business activity.

The Calcasieu Ship Channel was engineered in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s to straighten, widen and deepen the Calcasieu River from Lake Charles to the Gulf of Mexico, making Lake Charles a deepwater port, although it is 34 miles inland. In 2013, the channel carried nearly 56.7 million short tons of foreign and domestic cargo, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Some key findings of the study (figures are for 2014):

The ship channel is responsible for nearly 36,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs, or 31 percent of the total employment in the Lake Charles metro area, and 50 percent of local tax revenue is generated from industrial production or maritime services tied directly to the ship channel.

More than 80 percent of the manufacturing employment in Lake Charles is strongly tied to waterway-dependent industries.

Some 46 percent of the GDP in Lake Charles directly depends on the ship channel for the receipt of raw materials or shipment of finished products.

An additional $1 billion of earnings and $1.3 billion of personal income is generated outside of the Lake Charles economy from the ship channel’s production and services.

Industries relying on the ship channel produce nearly 13,000 additional jobs outside of the local economy. The total number of jobs in Louisiana generated by the ship channel is nearly 50,000 jobs or almost 2 percent of the state’s workforce.

The ship channel and associated industrial production contributed $916 million in federal taxes in 2014; that figure is expected to rise to $1.3 billion in 2023.

If the proposed 19 industrial projects tied to the ship channel are completed and operational in 2023, the study predicts that the region will experience a 25 percent increase in channel-dependent jobs, a 78 percent expansion in channel-dependent GDP and more than double the local tax revenues generated from channel-dependent companies.

"We’re happy to see that so many people – from plant operators to retail store clerks to construction workers – have jobs because of the ship channel and its maritime activity," said Barbara McManus, president of the Port of Lake Charles Board of Commissioners. "This is why the port authority works so hard to protect and maintain the channel – it truly carries the lifeblood of our area."

Download the full Economic Impact Study.