Paul Latture Gives Port of Little Rock Last Glance

by Marty Cook  on Monday, Mar. 10, 2014 12:00 am  

Paul Latture

“When I came here, we were just hand-to-mouth,” Latture said. “Times were tough. We’ve grown revenues triple to quadruple,” from $1 million in 1999 to $3.5 million in 2013. “I’m leaving the Port Authority in excellent shape.”

Latture was born and raised in Fort Smith where his father, also named Paul, was a longtime member of that city’s Chamber of Commerce. Paul the younger developed a knack for economic development and followed in his father’s chamber footsteps before ending up at the Port Authority.

His focus on economic development has paid off there.

“We brought in a half-billion [dollars] in new industrial investments and 2,000-2,500 employees,” Latture said. “They have better jobs and can send their kids to college. It’s a warm feeling knowing you played a role in that.”

Hendricks said there’s plenty of room for expansion at the port, which has easy access to the Arkansas River, the railways and the interstate system. Those factors helped the Port Authority grow under Latture’s direction and bode well for the future under his replacement.

“The port has had amazing success,” Hendricks said. “We’ve had growth more than our greatest expectations.”

The Port Authority has already published the executive director job opening, and Latture said he has spread the word as well. He said he would not have a role in the interview process to find his replacement but he hoped to be able to provide any assistance if it were needed.

It’s not easy walking away from a place at which you’ve spent close to 15 years without at least a look over your shoulder.

“My heart is invested out here,” Latture said.



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