Posted at: 09/19/2013 5:23 PM
Updated at: 09/25/2013 3:38 PM
By: Travis Dill
The executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority announced his retirement in May, and today the agency's board appointed the next man to take the helm.
The current executive director, Adolph Ojard, said shipping has been the lifeblood of the Twin Ports. Ojard said the industry has an economic impact of hundreds of millions of dollars and employs thousands in the region. He said directing the port for 10 years has been an honor and pretty fun.
“These are grown men's toys. You can't help but have fun. It's big ships. It's trains. It's big equipment,” Ojard said.
Ojard's love of shipping remains, but he said retirement will allow more time with his family that lives on the East Coast.
The Port Authority Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to appoint Vanta Coda replace Ojard on Oct. 1.
Coda has 20 years of experience in multi-modal transportation. Although Coda's been living in Texas near the Gulf Coast he said his family is ready for a Northland winter.
“Listen, I've dealt with extreme weather right. 50 days of 96 degrees isn't normal so I think we can manage,” Coda said.
He said his family is excited to experience the Twin Ports. Coda said his son even gave him advice when applying for the job.
“He had done his research on the internet, and just before I came up for the interview he looked at me and said, 'Don't blow it Dad,'” Coda said.
Ojard said he's ready to step down but is jealous Coda gets to work with a $10 million TIGER grant.
“We've got grant money for the development of a new dock and new platform for economic development. We've got the U.S. Steel property that we're getting more and more involved in,” Ojard said.
He said Coda has the skills to move the port forward during this exciting time.
Coda will take over as executive director in October, but Ojard will remain in a supporting role until the middle of next month.