Port of Grays Harbor Executive Director Announces Retirement

After nearly 24 years of attracting private investment, expanding port facilities, and increasing vessel calls, cargo volumes and jobs for Grays Harbor, Port of Grays Harbor Executive Director Gary Nelson has announced he will retire on March 31, 2024.

Nelson was hired as Executive Director in April 2000, when the port had only 21 vessel calls handling 85,000 metric tons of cargo, with an operating budget of just $5.2 million. In contrast, the port is projected to have 100 vessel calls and handle more than 3 million metric tons of cargo with an operating budget of nearly $40 million by the end of 2023. During his tenure, the Port has seen more than $275 million in private investment throughout its facilities. In addition, the Port has diversified to include operations at the Satsop Business Park and recreational facilities at Friends Landing. Nelson’s leadership has secured millions of dollars from federal and state grant sources to modernize and make improvements to the Westport Marina, Marine Terminals, and Bowerman Airport, positioning the Port to accommodate current and future economic growth.

A nationally recognized industry leader, Nelson served as AAPA Chairman from 2019 to 2020, chaired the Washington Public Ports Association Legislative Committee, and served on the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association Executive Board. He also oversaw the critical completion of Deeper Draft, the deepening of the Grays Harbor Navigation Channel to its congressionally authorized depth. 

“All good things must come to an end,” stated Port of Grays Harbor Executive Director Gary Nelson. “I have always been taught to leave a place better than you found it and I would like to think that is the case both at the Port and the community as a whole. I look forward to watching the Port continue to grow in the coming years with several exciting projects on the horizon.”