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LATEST NEWS  Building Envelope

March 28, 2005

Airport plan may lose Canadian investors

BATON ROUGE, La.

A plan to build a cargo airport in southern Louisiana will lose its Canadian investors unless the state legislature agrees to supply $3.7 million (U.S.) for environmental studies, an official with the project said last week.

The Canadian companies that agreed to back the project will pull out if the state won’t put up the money in the legislative session that starts next month, said Glenda Jeansonne, executive director of the Louisiana Airport Authority.

“I think our window of opportunity will close,’’ Jeansonne said in an interview.

Under the proposed project, Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin Corp. would run the airport and Canadian Commercial Corp., a business promotion arm of the Canadian government, would guarantee the investments.

Opponents of the plan include airport officials in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, plus the sugar cane farmers who would have to sell their land to the state to make way for the airport.

The $4.4-billion (U.S.) airport would attract tenants from around the world and could turn south Louisiana into a supply hub for Latin America, Europe and Asia, said Karl A. Ray, a project co-ordinator with SNC Lavalin Corp.

The state would act as landlord, collecting rents from the airport’s tenants.

But Ray agreed with Jeansonne that his company would have to back away if legislators refuse to back the plan with cash this year.

He said his company has already spent about $300,000 (U.S.) in research and planning.

The state legislature created the Louisiana Airport Authority in 1992 to find a spot for a cargo airport to be built and run as a public-private partnership.

The Associated Press

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