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Fri November 8, 2013

President Obama Visiting Port Of New Orleans

Local officials are hoping for a word with President Obama during his visit to the Port of New Orleans.

President Obama is heading to New Orleans this morning. He selected the port of New Orleans as the backdrop for a speech on the importance of exports. And others are hoping for moment to discuss other economic issues.

President Obama is expected to talk about how exports are vital to creating jobs and bolstering the economy.

New Orleans Port President Gary LaGrange agrees.

“The Brookings Institute just reported recently that the New Orleans area was the number one export area — and that includes all of the lower Mississippi River really, from Baton Rouge to the mouth of the river — the largest export market area, or metropolitan area, urban area in the United States," LaGrange said.

But the president will be also hearing from others about economic threats.

Michael Hecht is president of the Greater New Orleans, Incorporated economic development group. He says the regional and national economy is threatened by skyrocketing flood insurance rates under the Biggert-Waters Act.

Hecht will be asking the president to give the Federal Emergency Management Agency more time to review the proposed rate hikes.

“In the same way that he’s been able to delay the mandate for the Affordable Care Act, we think that the president has the ability to delay the implementation of Biggert-Waters, at least until the affordability study is done to let us know how many people it’s going to impact and how bad," Hecht said.

The Port of New Orleans wants dredging and infrastructure improvements to handle even more maritime business when the Panama Canal expansion opens in 2015.

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