Decades ago, former Henderson County Riverport Executive Director Greg Pritchett was working as an operations manager for an export business in Corydon, Ind.
In 2003, Pritchett’s father, former Henderson County magistrate, judge-executive and state representative, A.G., died, and his passing ratcheted up Greg Pritchett’s desire to come back home.
A chance meeting that year with former Henderson County Riverport Executive Director Bill Howard on a trip home led Pritchett to apply to be the next head at the riverport.
Now, 20 years later, Pritchett is a new member of the Kentucky Transportation Center Hall of Fame.
Inducted into that hall of fame on Friday, Pritchett said his work advocating for riverports with the Kentucky Association of Riverports—and his successes finding state funding for riverports—as the reason for his induction.
He said his work with KAR raised awareness that riverports are an “economic development tool.”
In 2008, he was part of a statewide riverport study that first introduced “parameters and funding” that could come from state government, he said. Three years later, the first funding from the state came to riverports, he said.
Before that, funding for riverports came from only the revenues they could bring in and grants they may be able to secure, Pritchett said.
In 2018, he participated in another study about the benefits and currently, there’s legislative talk about increasing funding for riverports, he said.
All of it started with work KAR started years earlier, he said.
Locally, Pritchett said being able to secure grants that totaled between $400,000 and $500,000 and then putting in another $500,000 of the riverport’s own money allowed it to refurbish its crane in 2016—a significant project.
In his time, he said the riverport kept all its customers from the previous executive director, except for one, then added three or four new customers and found a way to eliminate the $4 million in debt it had when Pritchett began, he said. The last accomplishment has allowed Ben Weithman, the current executive director who took over after Pritchett retired in December 2022, to work from reserves while not worrying about loan payments.
Pritchett said indirectly the riverport helps to “keep around 1,000 jobs.”
According to information posted on the Kentucky Transportation Center Hall of Fame’s website, Pritchett began his career as a teenager on the family farm. He graduated from the University of Kentucky and then began work as a bank farm manager for banker Ray Preston, said the release. Later he went to Indiana to work in Preston’s export business, a job that took him coast to coast, as well as Asia and Europe, said the release.
As the executive director of the riverport, he courted the port’s customer base including grains, metals, fertilizer, and occasional river barge-based machinery heavy lift projects to support new manufacturing plants in Bowling Green, Owensboro, Bardstown and most recently the Pratt Paper plant located 3 miles from the riverport in Henderson, according to the release.
Pritchett aligned with Henderson and Kentucky Economic Development to recruit new industries to Henderson, the Kentucky Transportation cabinet, KBT, Kentucky Association of Riverports, Kentucky Water Transportation Advisory board, Inland Terminals, and Ports, and served on a committee within the Washington DC based Transportation Research Board.
He has been recruited to speak at numerous regional, state, and national meetings, co-authored a research paper with Elizbeth Collins, president of Collins Engineers, which they presented at the International Based Smart Rivers conference Pittsburgh meeting in 2017, according to the release.
Pritchett has been married to his wife, Melissa, for 35 years. They have two children, Anne Nash and Seth.