Month 1, AFTER THE FLOOD. The flood closed the chamber for about 10 days. Not because our building flooded but every employee had flooding in their house or their parent’s house. As soon as we returned, between trips to meet with insurance adjusters and contractors, the staff began work finalizing plans for a local vendors and contractors workshop with CB&I on how to do business with CB&I on the TOTAL project and future projects in Port Arthur. This event was held on September 27 at the Carl Parker Center in Downtown Port Arthur. Ninety people attend the morning workshop and one hundred and sixty attended the afternoon session. All, that I spoke with, indicated they received valuable information and contacts that will be helpful in moving forward.
I attended the September board meeting of the Texas Association of Business (TAB). I am pleased to report, near the end of September, the Eastern District of Texas granted the Chamber's motion for a permanent injunction on the Obama administration’s overtime rule. As you are aware, the Obama administration’s rule would have resulted in salaried professional employees being converted to hourly wages, reduced workplace flexibility and remote electronic access to work, and halted opportunities for career advancement. The Greater Port Arthur Chamber joined with TAB and the U.S. Chamber in a lawsuit, resulting in this victory. We appreciate everyone who participated in our webinars, signed our letter to Congress, and who participated in the comment period and lawsuit.
This legal victory means small businesses, nonprofits, and other employers throughout the economy will not see excessive new labor costs and major disruptions in their day to day work.
The Chamber is looking forward to working with the Department of Labor on a new rule to create a more suitable update to the salary threshold.
The chamber also met with the SBA to learn about long term, low interest loans that are available for businesses, individuals and non-profit organizations. For businesses, you can borrow money for up to 30 years to rebuild, repair or replace your building and your contents. Also available, are loans to help you pay invoices while you are rebuilding your client base. If your clients or customers were prevented from trading with you, could not get to you, or your employees could not get to work causing lost business, you are eligible for these loans. If you are a homeowner or renter there are loans available to you for repairs and contents. Finally, if you are a non-profit organization there are loans available for your loses also. If you are a business and need help filing your loan, Linda Tait at the Lamar State College-Port Arthur, Texas Gulf Coast SBDC at 409-984-6530 will assist you in completing your loan application.
You can find the SBA weblink at www.portarthurtexas.com. You may also call the SBA and they will give you the information. This program is fast and it works.
Golden Pass donated 1.5 million dollars to help with Harvey recovery. The chamber’s Port Arthur Education Foundation will be working with PAISD and Lamar State College-Port Arthur to write grants in an attempt to direct some of this generous donation to help our students that were hurt by the flood. The Port Arthur Education Foundation was fortunate to be approached by Dell for donating $46,000.00 to purchase new equipment. Many of our companies are donating money, facilities and human resources to help our citizens get their lives back.
The chamber will continue to work with businesses that were hit hard by the flood. The only requirement is they contact us and tell us what we can do to help. There have been very few businesses calling us to ask for help. As we identify needs we will work to find resources. Anyone needing help may call us at 409-963-1107.