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STATEMENT OF PAT BEAIRD, PRESIDENT OF THE J. B. BEAIRD
CO., INC., SHREVEPORT, LA. Mr. BEAIRD. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. The J. B. Beaird Co. is a manufacturing enterprise founded 29 years ago. Fabricated-steel and cast-steel products are produced and sold under the Beaird name and trade-mark. Principal products consist of oil and gas-field castings, railroad, and miscellaneous industrial castings, cast steel flanged and screwed fittings and specialties, drilling and production derricks and accessories, oil and gas separators, oil-field heaters and treaters, filling-station and oil-field storage tanks, skid-mounted air and gas compressors, butane and propane gas systems, farm-product dehydrators, and potato planters.
The J. B. Beaird Co.'s plant No. 1 covers almost entirely 9 acres, except for trainways, roadways, and so forth. Plant No. 2 is situated on an 87-acre tract, about one-third of which is under roof. Early in 1944 the company acquired about 90 acres of adjacent industrial property. Present plans call for retaining 20 acres for proposed expansion.
The company has quite recently negotiated a $1,000,000 loan with the RFC for financing expansion and the development of additional products, particularly in the farm-machinery field. Under active consideration at the present time are such items as rice driers and steel storage bins, potato-digging machinery, hay choppers, meal mills, and flame cultivators. The company envisions a tremendous growth of business in this direction. At the present time, about one-third of available facilities is devoted to farm products. The expansion program will be almost entirely devoted to farm-machinery items.
At the present time the J. B. Beaird Co. is employing approximately 550 workers. By the end of 1946 it should reach 750 to 800.
It is felt that within 2 years, its employees will reach or exceed the wartime peak of 1,500.
The tonnage of products forecast for 1945 amounted to 35,000 tons. All of this tonnage must be shipped into Shreveport by rail. Approximately 75 percent of this tonnage will leave our plant by rail. In-bound only-in addition to this product tonnage-is operating supplies, such as foundry sand, electrodes, sand ingredients, refractory materials for furnaces, new equipment and facilities, and building materials. It is estimated that these items will total three to four cars weekly. The expansion program now under way will have the effect of greatly increasing this freight tonnage. Our forecast has been somewhat lowered because of the steel, coal, and rail strikes.
The Shreveport area is well situated for rapid industrial growth, having available low-cost fuel and other fine industrial requisites. Labor is attracted to this section because of pleasant living conditions and good climate. Water transportation into the Shreveport area will eliminate the chief trade restriction and disadvantage. Our principal raw materials consist of steel, sheets, plates, and structural shapes. The waterway will enable us to lay this material in our plant at considerably lower cost than at present. We will be able to compete on a more even basis with the Gulf coast cities. Our expansion will, therefore, be realized at a much faster rate and established on a sound economic basis.
As a citizen and manufacturer, I am most strongly urging the approval of the Red River lateral canal. Other manufacturers in Shreveport and ajdacent industrial areas are 100 percent in accord with this application for water transportation.
Mr. MATTHIAS. Then I have a statement by Mr. Arthur Watson, of Natcbitoches, La., expressing his support in connection with the building of the Red River lateral canal.
Senator OVERTON. That also will appear in the record.
STATEMENT OF ARTHUR WATSON, NATCHITOCHES, LA,
Mr. Watson. I had the good fortune to be elected secretary of the Natchitoches Port Development Association. This is an organization of businessmen of Natchitoches and Natchitoches Parish, who are vitally interested in seeing the Red River lateral canal become a reality instead of just a dream.
The people of Natchitoches are united in support of this canal. The benefits to be derived from it are incalculable. We have a rich agricultural and sawmilling country whose products can be shipped by water to the mutual advantage both of our producers and of the ultimate consumer. Furthermore, it is our considered opinion that the creation of an inland waterway through this valley will stimulate the industry which we have here now and will bring more industry into our area in the immediate future.
We were all extremely gratified that the Army engineers have investigated this project and found it possible, both from an engineering standpoint and from the viewpoint of economics. Our people have studied the matter carefully and we know that the canal will pay for itself over a course of years. We feel that it will give us the opportunity which we have long needed in the valley. We have a rich area, but we need cheap transportation for the products which we can produce here.
We strongly urge a favorable report on the Red River lateral canal, behind which the people of Natchitoches Parish stand enthusiasticallv united.
Mr. MATTHIAS. Also a statement of Mr. Sylvan W. Nelken, who is head of the department of agriculture, Northwestern State College, and also president of the Natchitoches Chamber of Commerce, and I would like also to have his remarks printed in the record.
Senator OVERTON. That will be done. Just hand them to the reporter.
STATEMENT OF SYLVAN W. NELKEN, HEAD, DEPARTMENT OF
AGRICULTURE, NORTHWESTERN STATE COLLEGE AND PRESIDENT, NATCHITOCHES CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, NATCHITOCHES, LA.
Mr. NELKEN. The Red River Valley, stretching through a considerable part of Louisiana, as well as other States, contains thousands of acres of the Nation's most productive farm and grazing lands. The basic industry of this territory is agriculture-chiefly cotton, livesstock, and hay crops. Continued production of cotton, because of inevitable lower prices, due to foreign competition, manufacture of synthetics, large carry-over, and loss of export market-must be based upon speedy mechanization of its production. This mechanization must and will cover all phases of production--planting-cultivatingand picking. Such change will most certainly create a problem in labor utilization. One mechanical cotton picker is now doing the work of 100 cotton pickers. A great reservoir of semiskilled and unskilled labor will result. Give us water transportation and industry will gladly make use of this labor and solve the great problem of what will happen to the Negro in the valley when cotton is harvested by machine. Such industry that would move to the valley to utilize the relatively cheap available labor would create tonnage. To mechanize cotton will require the movement of much heavy machinery-thus a great tonnage on the proposed canal.
It is a fact that the Red River Valley lands produce more grass per acre than any other land in the Nation. A small amount of this
grass is being dried and ground and shipped to feed manufacturers. With water transportation this business will multiply many times, creating tonnage and jobs.
The late President Roosevelt called the South the Nation's No. 1 economic problem, and many of us from the South feel that he was correct. A great part of the South, lacking water transportation, has not been able to attract industry to any great extent, thus making a continuance of too many small farmers unable to earn a satisfactory standard of living. If industry could be combined with small farm operation, much of the South's economic problem would vanish. Buying power of the individual would be greatly increased, thus bringing about a great movement of goods along the proposed waterway.
In conclusion, may I point out again: 1. Cotton will be mechanized, thus creating a vast amount of surplus labor
2. That industry will most certainly use this labor.
3. That a tremendous amount of farm machinery must move to the valley.
4. New industries will develop because of cheap transportation.
5. The canal will improve the income of our citizens and thus increase the movement of goods.
Mr. MATTHIAS. Thank you, sir, .
Senator OVERTON. I believe I asked you there is no opposition to it?
Mr. MATTHIAS. There is no opposition that I know of. (The witness withdrew from the committee table.)
Senator OVERTON. All right, sir. Is there anyone else from Shreveport who wishes to testify?
STATEMENT OF HAROLD J. BRYANT, GENERAL MANAGER, SHREVE
PORT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, SHREVEPORT, LA. Mr. BRYANT. My name is Harold J. Bryant. I am general manager of the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce. I have a statement that I think covers practically what I have to say, Mr. Chairman. If you would like I will read it and then file it with the clerk, if that is
Senator OVERTON. How long is it?
Mr. BRYANT. The citizenship of Shreveport is in full accord with the program of building the Red River lateral canal. The return of navigation on the Red River which had a vital part in establishing the city of Shreveport, has been listed as a most important project on the program of the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce for over 25 years.
Other officers of our organization have previously made statements of fact and presentation of factual data relative to the economic stability of Shreveport and its business interests, among these were statements by Ed C. Burris, who served as our general manager until March 15, 1946. In addition to the statements he made and which are of record in previous hearings, I wish to call your attention to these basic factors, which show the stability of Shreveport's past and gives assurance to its future growth.
Here are the records:
Shreveport has grown constantly and consistently from: 11,897 in 1890 to 15,000 in 1900, to 28,000 in 1910, to 43,000 in 1920, to 76,000 in 1930.
And in 1940 the Bureau of the Census gave the population inside the city limits of Shreveport as 98,167. Today it is estimated that at least 118,000 people live within the city limits of Shreveport and in its metropolitan area there are estimated to be at least 130,000.
Postal receipts have grown from $350,000 in 1920 to over a million dollars in 1945; in only 1 year during that 25-year period was there no gain. Utility connections for electricity, gas, water, and telephone have all shown steady as well as essential growth.
Retail sales for 1945 are up to $95,116,000 compared with $46,959,000 in 1940.
Wholesale sales for 1945 were $154,655,000 compared with $66,868,000 for 1939.
Manufacturing increased 26.9 percent in number of plants, 43 percent in wages paid and 110.44 percent in value of products, between 1935 and 1939.
These facts show unmistakable justification for the building of the Red River lateral canal. The citizens of Shreveport recognize the need for it and are giving it their united support.
Senator OVERTON. Thank you very much.
Representative Brooks. That is all, Mr. Chairman, from Shreveport. Mr. Harris is from Alexandria.
Senator OVERTON. All right, Mr. Harris, will you come forward.
STATEMENT OF HOMER H. HARRIS, SR., CHAIRMAN OF THE
BOARD OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS OF LOUISIANA, ALEXANDRIA, LA.
Senator OVERTON. You reside in Alexandria?
Senator OVERTON. Have you any connection with this project officially?
Mr. HARRIS. Yes, quite a bit, Senator.
Senator OVERTON. In the first place, I think you are a member of the board of the Department of Public Works of Louisiana?
Mr. HARRIS. I am chairman of the board of the State Department of Public Works of Louisiana, vice president of the Red River Valley Improvement Association; I am director of the Mississippi Valley Association, of St. Louis, and director and treasurer of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce.
Senator OVERTON. You have taken an interest in the waterways for some time, have you not?
Mr. HARRIS. Yes, sir; since 1940.
Mr. HARRIS. Well, I believe I could save time by reading this article to you as further evidence of my qualifications.
In appearing before you in this matter, I represent the following organizations: The Department of Public Works, State of Louisiana , of which I am chairman of its board; the Mississippi Valley Association, of St. Louis, Mo., of which I am a member of the board of directors; the Red River Valley Improvement Association, of which I am vice president; the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, of which I am a member of its board of directors, also its treasurer.
As further evidence of my qualifications to discuss matters pertaining to the Red River Valley, I wish to state that I have resided within 2 miles of Red River for nearly 35 years, during which time I have operated a large plantation, a sawmill, and other commercial enterprises.
At the present time I own several thousand acres of Red River Valley alluvial lands and also conduct a wholesale and retail lumber and building-material concern at Alexandria, La., in the operation of which I am a shipper and receiver of a large tonnage of heavy and bulky freight, which is presently handled by railroad and truck-line transportation.
Being thoroughly informed about the economic needs of the Red River Valley, I respectfully urge your approval of the Red River lateral canal project, which will furnish this valley with water transportation, that it so vitally needs.
Red River is the last large river watershed to receive the attention of the Army engineers, and this canal will become a most important link in the vast inland water transportation system of the United States. It will not only benefit Red River Valley, but will benefit the entire country.
The Red River lateral canal project follows the course of several natural waterways and bayous which in early days carried waterborne freight to and from the planters of the valley. These natural streams parallel Red River and afford the Army engineers an economical canal route that will be reasonable in original cost and have very little maintenance cost.
The Corps of Army Engineers is to be congratulated upon designing such an efficiently planned canal project, which in addition to providing low-cost transportation will at no cost at all furnish valuable land reclamation and important drainage to this highly developed and valuable alluvial land area in Louisiana.
Despite the fact that Red River Valley has been without water transportation for many, many years, the people have made great