by: ERIN Z. BASS of “Greater Baton Rouge Business Report”
Name: Craig Romero
Position: Executive Director
Company: Port of Iberia District
Hometown: New Iberia
Education: B.A., Political Science, University of Southwestern Louisiana
Craig Romero got his start in politics. He served as Iberia Parish president from 1984 to 1992, when he was elected to the Louisiana Senate, where he remained until 2008.
He was recruited to manage and grow the Port of Iberia in 2014.
“Having helped the port secure millions of state and federal dollars to make infrastructure improvements in my capacity as parish president and state senator,” Romero says, “the Port Commission felt I could help them maintain the momentum that they had going through the years.”
What are your responsibilities at the Port of Iberia?
I manage and promote the port in every way possible to maintain and create new jobs for Acadiana. The Port Commission owns and operates over 750 acres of waterfront property that has over 100 businesses with over 5,000 employees when we are at our best.
What is your secret to leadership and advancing in your field?
Surrounding yourself with good people is a good start to making sure you get the job done regardless of what you do in life. Networking with my counterparts in the Ports Association of Louisiana helps tremendously in moving the Port of Iberia forward. There is no real secret to leadership—just be persistent and polite to everyone that can help you.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities like?
I try to get in all my tenants’ coffee rooms at least once a month to check out their heartbeat and to see if I can help in any way. Prospects will also come to look at what we have available to lease, which also gets your heart rate up.
What is one thing about your job people don’t expect or don’t know and hear about?
Our promotional efforts to always try to attract new tenants at our port goes after a lot of potential clients. We go after a lot of prospects that for one reason or another decide that they are not ready to make the commitment to locate at the port. We continue to work with these prospects, never knowing if and when they will locate here, but we never give up and don’t publicize that we are even courting them.
What are some of the biggest challenges that come with working in your industry?
Exploration is occurring out in deeper water in the Gulf of Mexico, so, as a result, the structures being built for that work are so much larger that it requires deeper water at the construction sites in order to float the finished platforms and structures out into the Gulf. Maintaining maximum water depths in and out of our ports is the biggest challenge in our industry.
What do you see for the future of your industry?
The oil and gas industry will definitely experience a transformation for the better, simply because the regulatory side of the business will now see “common sense” come into play at the federal level. Recent announcements by President-elect Donald Trump of [appointments of] very accomplished and successful businesspeople who operate on a basis of common sense rather than “fearmongering” will encourage oil and gas companies to make investments once again. These companies will no longer be fearful of their own government.
What are your next goals both professionally and personally?
My next goal is to get the Acadiana Gulf of Mexico Access Channel under construction so that Acadiana can prosper economically in terms of expanded job opportunities for our families. Personally, I just want our economy to get back on track so that our quality of life can improve.
What other leadership roles do you hold in the community and/or what volunteer efforts do you support?
I helped in starting the South Louisiana Community College out at the Acadiana Regional Airport and also serve on the board of directors for Community First Bank in New Iberia.
What is your most satisfying professional accomplishment?
Serving in the Louisiana State Senate from 1992 until 2008, when “term limits” went into effect. To be one of only 39 senators, and representing Iberia and St. Martin, as well as parts of Lafayette and Vermilion, was the greatest honor given to me in my lifetime.