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Last year’s Marine Industrial Issue focused on the key phrase “cautiously optimistic.” I wish I could report that more had changed in this area, but the truth is, we are still in about the same place.

Companies locally have diversified, in an effort to not fall any further. Some companies have explored the “Shale Revolution”, trying their hand at fracking and land drilling. But the big dollars remain in the Gulf- both in cost to drill and in profits made.

In our annual Marine Industrial issue, we take a closer look at what some of our area’s largest companies and leaders are saying. In our industry overview, we take a look at the Trump administration’s roll back of some industry requirements enacted by the Obama administration after the crippling Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, drafting what it says are improved rules concerning blowout preventer systems and well-control regulations.

We also take a closer look at our area’s two main Ports and how they are keeping their heads high since the industry began its decline.

At Port Fourchon, Executive Director Chett Chiasson is quick to point out that his tenants are resilient, fighting daily to stay ahead. A little further north, the Port of Terrebonne is moving at a steady pace. The port is currently performing two expansions for port tenants utilizing the Port Priority Program administered through DOTD. Work is also on going when it comes to the constant battle of the depth of the Houma Navigation Canal.

We also take a closer look at what it takes to service the marine industry with a look at several local businesses. When it comes to working on rigs, its takes an army of people–and someone has to feed them! Erik Lind, president of G&J Land & Marine Food Distributors, Donny Rouse, CEO of Rouses Markets, and Vince Cannata of Cannata’s Family Markets share what goes into filling the marine grocery orders and how that part of all their businesses remains important.

Sisters Lauren Melancon and Vanessa Melancon Pierce know what it’s like to work in a fast-paced and often hard industry. Coming from the oil field service industry themselves, the pair has proudly opened Melaco Sisters Hardware & Supplies to help serve the people of south Lafourche.

There is also a bright star on the horizon when it comes to educating future generations. Fletcher Technical Community College was recently awarded an over $144,000 grant that will go towards implementing new simulators and other equipment into the college’s Marine Diesel program. Future technicians will learn how to work on heavy diesel engines in a safer environment, preparing them to be able to diagnose, fix and repair in the field.

Through conversations with other business owners in the bayou region, it seems that most are seeing growth this year and expect that to continue. Whether that is from higher sales due to confidence in our current economic situation or business growth driven by getting back to old-fashioned hustle, we’ll take it.

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