Power 100 Q&A: Paul Cozza

 In Power 100 Q&A profiles

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Paul Cozza

PAUL COZZA

Ship shape

57, Executive director, North Carolina State Ports Authority
Wilmington

Alma maters
United States Military Academy at West Point, B.A.
Fairleigh Dickinson University, MBA

Since the veteran shipping-industry executive arrived in 2014, the state-controlled authority has overseen $200 million in infrastructure upgrades, including deepening the turnaround basin for bigger ships. The payoff was a 38% increase in containers and an 18% gain in general cargo in the 2018 fiscal year. In February, thanks to new perishables capacity, Wilmington unloaded its first refrigerated shipment from Guatemala.

What is North Carolina’s key challenge?
Staying ahead of the pending growth we will see. This includes all aspects of infrastructure. Investment in the state’s transportation resources will keep us competitive and ahead of the states around us. Continued growth and opportunities will come to the Southeast, so let’s make sure we are ready.
Share an insight about your community.
The Cape Fear region is a great place to live, work and play. We have a terrific mix of young families, a growing educated student population with UNC Wilmington, and an expanding entrepreneurial business community, and we are an attractive area for retirees and tourism. What a great combination.
What is something people don’t know about you?
I started my career in the Army as a helicopter pilot.
Key 2018 accomplishment?
We continued to expand N.C. Ports’ presence with a growth of 38% in our container segment. Also, we tripled our volume of refrigerated commodities imports and exports in the last three years.
What advice do you share with newcomers?
Learn our business, get involved, improve your skills and be passionate about what we do.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Getting a chance to meet people from around our state. This was not home for us originally, and the opportunity to be part of N.C. and help our business community is a great thing. For my family, this is our long-term home.
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