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2,000 new jobs expected as Avondale Shipyard announces new ownership

It was once the largest private employer in the state before closing in 2014

The 254-acre Avondale Shipyard site on the west bank of Jefferson Parish is officially back in business.

Gov. John Bel Edwards and a host of local business and civic leaders were on hand at the shipyard Thursday morning to welcome the site's new owners, Avondale Marine LLC.

The newly-formed joint venture between Virginia-based T. Parker Host and Illinois-based Hilco Redevelopment Partners finalized the purchase of the site on Wednesday.

“As we started evaluating the site, it's phenomenally built and every single square foot of that site has a specific purpose and all that purpose was to build ships there,” said Adam Anderson with Avondale Marine.

Huntington Ingalls Industries closed the shipyard in 2014 and later put the property up for sale.

At one time, Avondale was the largest private employer in Louisiana with about 26,000 workers.

Avondale Marine plans to redevelop the site's crane, dock and terminal assets. The company said manufacturing at Avondale could help create up to 2,000 new jobs.

“Here, we'll have a multi-modal facility that will allow us to bring in types of tenants who do different types of work, but can share the capacity that this site offers,” said JEDCO President and CEO Jerry Bologna.

GNO Inc. and JEDCO played an integral role in bringing the Avondale purchase to fruition.

Bologna noted the development took 17 months. "We believe this is just the first step in what will become a catalytic transformation of the Avondale Shipyard site."

Avondale Shipyard opened in 1939 and during eight decades built and repaired military and commercial vessels.

In 2010, the shipyard's closing was announced. The move was a cost-saving measure. On Feb. 3, 2014, the USS Somerset, the last naval vessel to be built at the shipyard, departed from the once-bustling facility.

"We know that golden age of shipbuilding will not return to Avondale,” Edwards said in a prepared statement. “But after many months of discussion, we have secured a visionary private-sector partner to create a new path for growth at Avondale.

“This purchase represents a great opportunity to bring new investment, jobs and prosperity back to Avondale, with a sharp focus on attracting logistics and manufacturing leaders in the global economy,” Edwards’ statement continued.

Avondale Marine will begin its planning process for the site in the coming months.

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