The first few months of 2014 have seen the Port Arthur Chamber begin addressing issues and goals outlined in our 2013 retreat. In an effort to determine our strengths and weaknesses the chamber has formed an Accreditation Task Force to ready us for application to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Accreditation module. The Task Force will be composed of 30 to 40 members with the goal of examining every aspect of the chamber and writing goals to address areas where we are deficient. When this Task Force has completed their mission we will then communicate with the U.S. Chamber for application to be accredited. The beauty of this project is, when completed, if we are not accredited we will have a plan to move our chamber to the next level. We will also have 30 to 40 members that will know more about our chamber and be ready to move into leadership positions.
The next project was to redesign the Team City Project into an Economic Development Committee. The new committee will consist of commercial realtors, bankers, developers, building owners and other members that can help in keeping existing retail business or attracting new retail business. The chamber is attempting to get a list of all commercial and retail buildings available in Port Arthur. Having the bankers and developers on board will allow us to match space with financing.
The Education Committee is moving forward with plans to expand our partnership program and work with the school district on future issues that might build or rebuild schools that are old and have portable buildings for classrooms.
We are in the final stages of negotiating with the Port Arthur Economic Development Council to lease office space from them in the renovated building at 501 Procter St. Just a few final details need to be confirmed with a goal of being in the new space in the first part of 2015.
The New Year will also see the chamber joining with Beaumont and Orange to visit Austin for the Golden Triangle Days. As in the past, we expect to join approximately 350 other area leaders for a two day meeting with our elected officials. For the rest of the year we will meet to iron out the details and to develop our Legislative Priorities for 2015. I’m sure the usual of Transportation, Environment, Education and Economic Development will be on the agenda. Coming under all of those will be Wind Storm Insurance. I think our battle cry for this issue should be “Annex us back into Texas.” This is the only issue where the state draws a line around 14 counties and tells us “It’s your problem, you handle it.”
The chamber has been here 114 years has been an important part of the growth of Port Arthur. It is our goal to be here 114 more and become an even bigger player in the development of our city. If you want to help call 409-963-1107 and find out how to get into the game.