Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce Awarded 5-Star Accreditation
by U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Good news! The Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that after a comprehensive self-review, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has awarded us with 5-Star Accreditation. This prestigious honor puts us among the top 1% of chambers nationwide. In Texas there are fifteen 5-Star chambers and out of 7000 chambers of commerce in the United States there are 113 with the 5-Star Accreditation.
It is the responsibility of every chamber executive to, always, strive to make their chamber better. To do that you must have a measuring device and a map to your destination. The U.S. Chamber Accreditation provides exactly those items. This program makes you self-evaluate every aspect of the chamber. In the past year this effort has led to the creation of the Hispanic Business Council, the Contractors Business Development Group as well as a Membership Committee that is growing the chamber through new sales and retention. The process has taught our staff and volunteers how to research, plan and execute an aggressive and valuable chamber program.
This past year, the staff, board, and volunteers of Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce spent countless hours completing the Accreditation process. Our task: demonstrate competency in 9 core areas ranging from finance to facilities. The result of our hard-work is evidenced by this impressive rating. But in truth, we should all be extraordinarily proud of this milestone achievement. It was a true team effort.
The only national program recognizing chambers for their effective organizational procedures and community involvement, Accreditation allows us to renew, improve, and promote sound business practices, policies, and procedures.
Local chambers are rated Accredited, 3-Stars, 4-Stars, or 5-Stars. State chambers are recognized as either Accredited State Chamber or Accredited State Chamber with Distinction. The final determination is made by the Accrediting Board, a committee of U.S. Chamber board members and chamber executives from across the country.
For details, please contact Bill McCoy, President/CEO at (409) 963-1107 or www.portarthurtexas.com and click on the -Star Accreditation logo.
A Dangerous Message
Recently there has been discussion by Mayor Derrick Freeman about the creation of a Municipal Development District to generate sales tax revenue from petrochemical companies located in Port Arthur’s extra territorial jurisdiction. I understand his desire to find additional funding for repairing our infrastructure.
The problem is, any new tax would send a message to corporations that are considering expanding existing facilities or building new facilities our city is no long business friendly. Industry currently contributes approximately 30 million dollars through property taxes and agreements to our city directly. They generate the remainder of the city budget, indirectly, through jobs and incentives for all retail in Port Arthur.
It is a common thought, tax businesses instead of citizens, because businesses do not vote. Port Arthur is falling into that trap. Government tends to think that industry has no alternative but to accept this continued pressure and pay up. Industry does have options. For years they moved their operations and money off-shore and overseas. They also began to automate and streamline, thereby eliminating jobs. They can cancel expansions and new projects. Industries are corporations, owned by stockholders and governed by boards. If these stockholders do not see a fair return on their investments they can vote to delay or cancel spending on expansions and projects. With the latest federal tax cuts and reduction of regulations, industry is beginning to reinvest in the United States. Port Arthur needs to send the same message, lower taxes and less regulations instead of raising taxes and writing complex and, sometimes, unattainable, rules to qualify for tax breaks.
Currently in Port Arthur there are three new projects in the planning, totaling approximately 35 billion dollars. There are two expansions that could total 3 billion dollars. What does our new policy of increasing taxes say to their directors?
I suggest to our city council they come up with a message that makes those directors feel comfortable in investing in our city. I also suggest the council communicate with the business community on ways to better use the money we have. Our city has spent several hundred thousand dollars on plans to revitalize our city. The adage, “build it and they will come” is only true if what you build is accessible by good roads and doesn’t flood every time there is a heavy dew. I suggest we rebuild our deteriorated infrastructure and then “build it.” If we improve our infrastructure, private investors might just build it for us.
Speaking of infrastructure, on February 13, I was excited to attend a meeting with TXDOT to view plans for the redesign of the intersection of Highways 73 and 69. This old cloverleaf has served us well but with increasing traffic and speeds it has become dangerous. The new plans will have to go through extensive review, meetings with stakeholders and public hearings before it moves forward. Couple that with the high expense, I may never see it completed, but I can say I saw the plans. This project was included in the Chamber’s Transportation Plan, submitted to the City and TXDOT. last year. It is exciting to see them place the project on their agenda.
Infrastructure is important to private investors, but a trained workforce is also important. Golden Pass LNG is, once again, stepping up in the effort to train and hire local citizens at their future project. The proposed Golden Pass Products LNG export project is expected to create thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs. It would also generate economic gains in retail, construction, manufacturing, business services and transportation. Golden Pass is committed to helping local residents and businesses be part of the growth.
To address the employment issue, Golden Pass has created a set of programs – THE OPPORTUNITY ROADMAP – to do just that. The program connects local residents with opportunities to advance their skills, careers and potentially gain employment with Golden Pass or its contractors, improve the skill sets and employability of the available local workforce pool. Golden Pass is also committed to hiring locally and creating benefits for the local community. To make this happen Golden Pass is sponsoring four, two-hour sessions. These will be held in April, May, June and August. The exact dates and locations will be available soon. One session was held in early March.
The opportunities continue in Port Arthur, Texas and the Greater Port Arthur Chamber is there to help you take advantage of them. If you wish to join the team call Paige Snyder at 409-963-1107.
The chamber’s year officially begins on January 1. It is this day that new officers take office and begin their programs. The unofficial end of the year is the annual Banquet. The 118th Annual Banquet of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce was January 24 of 2018. The challenge was finding a venue large enough to handle the crowd. In Port Arthur there are only two such locations, the Bob Bowers Civic Center and the Carl Parker Center at Lamar Port Arthur. Harvey eliminated the Bob Bowers Civic Center, so the choice was obvious. The next challenge was finding a speaker for our event. Our chairman for 2018, Jeff Hayes, turned to Verna Rutherford, at Motiva, to invite their President/CEO Dan Romasko to be the speaker He, graciously, accepted and we had an event. On the Monday, before the Wednesday banquet, Verna Rutherford called me and informed me that Motiva had a new President/CEO and his name was Brian Coffman. The good news was he agreed to speak at our event. The banquet proved to be one of the largest in the last 6 years with approximately 600 people attending.
Marian Ruiz, 2017 Chairperson of the Board, wrapped up her year by giving an outline of the accomplishments for 2017, thanking her directors, committee chairpersons and handing out awards for Ambassador of the Year and Business of the Year. She introduced Jeff Hayes as Chairperson for 2018. Jeff outlined his goals for 2018, introduced the new directors, presented Paul Beard with the Arthur E. Stilwell Award, and introduced the speaker. A wet, cold and challenging 2017 was officially closed and 2018 was opened with hope and excitement.
One of our exciting, successful programs that provides hope for many young people is our Intern Training Program. We are constantly working with Lamar State College, Port Arthur ISD, the Texas Workforce Commission and our members to find qualified employees to fill the many jobs available in our area.
Since the inception of the Intern Training Program we have trained 65 Port Arthur citizens. Of those 65, 48 are in the workforce/job field and employment, 5 are currently enrolled in college or technical school, and 3 are currently with us at the Chamber. We were unsuccessful in tracking the remaining 9. This interprets to an 83.3% success rate. Our latest success story is Ms. Jessica Gonzales a local Port Arthur Resident. She has been hired by Collins Engineers here in Port Arthur as an Office Administrator Assistant to Mr. Michael Koxlien.
This proves with proper technical and life skills training, coupled with the desire to learn and apply those skills, our local citizens can find work within our city.
The success of the Chamber’s Intern Training Program is due to our Financial Director Joe Tant. Joe is a trained Human Relations Director that takes the task of training these interns seriously. He has designed a comprehensive training program that include these key elements:
The Greater Port Arthur Chamber is entering our 118th year with excitement. If you wish to become part of this successful economic development organization, call 409-963-1107 and ask for Paige, Raquel, Joe or Bill.
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