Incoming LR Port Director Bryan Day on Its Role Keeping the Economy Afloat

Bryan Day will assume the executive director’s position at the Little Rock Port on June 23. He succeeds Paul Latture, who had been in the position since 1999 and announced his retirement earlier this year.

Day received his undergraduate degree and Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Day has been assistant city manager of the city of Little Rock for the past eight years. He took the post after serving as director and assistant director of the Little Rock Parks & Recreation Department. He is married and has two school-aged children. In his spare time Bryan enjoys hiking camping and exploring the Arkansas back country.

Ben E. Keith Foods recently announced it was leaving the port for a location in North Little Rock. Are you looking to replace it and are you targeting any particular kinds of business to attract to the port?

Anytime we lose a business or industry in our community, we must all work together to fill that void. My first choice of any business for the port would be one that uses the rail or barge services that the port provides; however, any industry that benefits the community must be seriously considered.

Moving cargo by water seems as low-tech and old school as it can possibly be. How has technology changed the river shipping business in ways that the general public might not realize?

Moving goods and services across inland waterways is one of the most cost-effective means of transportation for industry, and as we develop more efficient technologies for tugs and barges, this mode of transportation will only become cheaper. The technologies used to maintain water levels on the river and keep the shipping channels dredged create a unique opportunity for business and industry to use the Arkansas River to move their products.

When will the Port Authority’s new $1.9 million headquarters open and how does it fit into your plans for the authority?

The port will open its new building around July of this year. The current director and the Port Authority board have adopted a visually stunning design that will serve as the heart of the port. The meeting spaces and technology will play an important role in attracting and recruiting industry to the port and the community.

What growth benchmarks have you set yourself in terms of authority revenue, which totaled $3.5 million last year, and in bringing jobs to the port?

The existing staff has done an incredible job of managing this resource for the community. I think that as we move forward, we need to build upon these successes and at the same time be aggressive in growing and diversifying operational revenues for the port to ensure it can continue serving central Arkansas. As for bringing jobs to the community, the port must work closely with the Chamber of Commerce, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the private sector to create opportunities for new and better paying jobs for the community. I hope that we will be able to have a steady increase in new job opportunities each and every year.

What makes the Port of Little Rock special?

The port is one of the state’s best-kept secrets. The staff and Port Authority board have worked hard to create a powerful economic development tool for the region, and those businesses that have located there are able to take advantage of the rail, the waterway and the Foreign Trade Zone. All of this equates into thousands of good jobs for the city.