The first two months of 2015 have been busy and productive for the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce. As I have said many times the key to a productive chamber is to be active in Legislation, Education and Transportation. These are the three necessary ingredients for a strong economic development organization.
Over the past two months we have written letters of support for “The LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act.” And the Clarification Bill as requested by the Sabine-Neches Navigation District.
The rapid permitting of new LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) facilities on the Gulf Coast offers thousands of jobs, increased generation of property taxes, reduction of the trade deficit, reduction in regulated air emissions and overall increase in the national economy. In support of The LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act we submitted the following information;
Recent U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) projections - alongside numerous other authoritative studies - show unequivocally that the United States has the natural gas supplies and the economic ability to provide our allies with reliable sources of energy, without losing our competitive edge in domestic prices. Allowing the sale of our natural gas abroad will also bring money back to the U.S. and create more jobs along the natural gas value chain while providing significant tax revenue to our local, state, and federal governments. Expanded LNG exports will also send an important signal to our allies that American gas can serve as important, long-term alternative to Russian energy.
No area can more authoritatively attest to the real world positive impacts of U.S. LNG development than Port Arthur, Texas. We are “home plate for the US LNG industry” i.e., we are the closest municipality to two of the largest announced projects in the world - Cheniere Energy Sabine Pass LNG and Golden Pass Products. Both companies are revamping existing world-class import terminals and investing more than $30B in the process, creating tens of thousands of construction jobs and thousands of permanent jobs for a generation. Add in LNG export projects with our near neighbors in the Lake Charles, Louisiana area and those numbers literally double, becoming the largest infusion of private capital in the history of the U.S.
One of the most important transportation issues is the funding for the deepening of our ship channel. At the request of the Sabine-Neches Navigation District we forwarded Senator Creighton the following letter;
As President of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce I am writing to request that you sponsor support of the Clarification Bill which has been requested of you by the Sabine-Neches Navigation District. As you know one of the most important events to happen in Jefferson County this year is Congress approving the deepening of the Sabine-Neches Waterway when they passed WRRDA 2014 Section 7002(1).
The Navigation District along with the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce and other area chambers has been working on this Authorization for many years. We now move to the funding phase of the project and it is important that the Navigation District developments as many options and sources for funding as possible.
We sincerely request that you help us in this endeavor or that you will introduce and carry the Bill requested by them. We have seen notice of this Bill in the newspapers and want to insure you that the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce is 100% in support of the Bill and the Sabine-Neches Navigation District.
These two pieces of legislation are vital to our continued economic growth in the Golden Triangle. On March 1st, 2nd and 3rd, approximately 300 people attended Golden Triangle Days in Austin, Texas to discuss State issues that will impact the Gulf Coast.
There will be photographs and further stories on this exciting and successful event in next month’s edition.
The channel is not the only form of transportation that is important. The chamber along with Ron Arceneaux, Chairman of the Transportation Committee sponsored a Transportation Summit on February 18th. Over 40 area business received presentations from Fred Jackson on State Highway 87 reconstruction, Sarah Dupre on local and regional TxDOT projects and a representative from State Senator Dade Phelan’s office. All methods of transportation were discussed including, water, rail and road. Port Arthur is not just dependent on the sea but all forms of shipping raw materials and finished products. Transportation planning and funding will continue to be a top priority for the chamber.
Continuing our immediate Past Chairman Mitch Osborn’s goal of improving our education programs, I am excited that February saw the founding of the Port Arthur Education Foundation. We had our first event since the foundation became an official chamber sponsored project. The State of the School Luncheon was held on February 24, 2015. Approximately 150 education supporters honored the CATE (Career and Technical Education) students. Each student exhibited their project and Dr. Porterie discussed our progress on spending the $195,000,000.00 of bonds approved by the citizens of Port Arthur in 2014. It was exciting to hear about the new projects. A week before this event the Port Arthur Education Foundation elected officers and approved the by-laws. We will file for our 501c3 designation shortly.
To continue telling the story of Port Arthur the chamber began broadcasting a weekly 15 minute radio program on all iHeart Radio channels in Southeast Texas. Paul Chargois will host the show and interview leaders from Port Arthur. We appreciate Paul’s offer of his talents and many years of radio promotion to allow us this opportunity. We also appreciate the two chamber members that volunteered to sponsor the show for 2015. Mid-America Contractors, LLC and Golden Pass LNG.
On a personal note, I am proud to have been appointed to the Board of Directors for the Port Arthur Economic Development Corp., Texas Association of Business and Advisory Board of the Port Arthur Industrial Group. I look forward to being a part of these organizations.
By the time I write the next column for this publication the chamber will be in their new offices at 501 Proctor in downtown Port Arthur. Watch your e-mails for an invitation to our open house. As always, if you want to be a part of any of these exciting projects call me at 409-963-1107 or go to our website at www.portarthurtexas.com and get on the team.