HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Port of Harlingen Authority’s top administrator will now be representing the industry beyond the Rio Grande Valley as the new president of the Gulf Ports Association.

Port Director Walker Smith has taken the helm of the trade organization “dedicated to enhancing economic development and encouraging commerce for deep-water and shallow-draft public ports in the Gulf Coast area,” the Port of Harlingen Authority announced Thursday. 

“Ports are critical economic drivers throughout our Nation,” Smith said. “I am both honored and humbled to be able to lead the Gulf Ports Association and work with many partners who represent ports large and small.”

The Gulf Ports Association formed in 1945 in New Orleans, LA. At that time, there were 13 public port members in the five Gulf states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, according to the Harlingen port.

“Today, there are 36 member ports,” the port said. “The purpose of the organization remains the same from its creation, specifically, to promote waterborne commerce through Gulf ports. The organization meets bi-annually for conferences and as needed throughout the year at various port locations.

As president, Smith will lead the Gulf Port Association in its pursuit of funding for its 38 member ports.

Smith previously served as the first vice-president for the last two years and second vice-president for two years. He replaces long-time president, Amy Miller, of the Port of Pensacola, Florida.