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Posted: Wednesday, 14 May 2014 2:14PM

Officials going bananas over port announcement

Officials today announced a major importer is returning to New Orleans.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Chiquita Brands executives say the company will relocate its shipping operations from the Port of Gulfport to the Port of New Orleans creating up to 350 new permanent jobs in the Crescent City.

"This is a huge, historic win for the Port of New Orleans and for trade in our state," Governor Jindal said in a news release. "We are excited to welcome back Chiquita after a nearly 40-year hiatus."

Chiquita left New Orleans in the 1970s.

"Today's announcement further solidifies Louisiana's position as one of the top states for international commerce in the U.S.," according to Jindal.

An LSU economic impact study suggests the project will result in approximately 270 to 350 new permanent jobs in New Orleans as well as an increase in total economic output of $373 million to $485 million over the next 10 years.

"We at Chiquita are thrilled to return to the port and the great city of New Orleans as we implement a new shipping configuration," said  Chiquita Brands International Inc. Senior Vice President Mario Pacheco. "This was a clear business decision for us surrounding our new shipping configuration rather than any dissatisfaction with the strong and economically competitive team we have had at Gulfport."

"New Orleans is on a roll and the Chiquita Brands investment is yet another example of the continued growth across industries in our city," New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. "With the creation of hundreds of new permanent jobs, Chiquita will create major opportunities for our citizens and continue to turbocharge the Port of New Orleans. I am very pleased to welcome Chiquita back."

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