Export boom for the Gulf Coast.
With the export of LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) and the import of Canadian Oil (when the XL pipeline is permitted) the Gulf Coast is a bubble of economic development that will explode in the next 2 – 10 years. There has been discussion of ending the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA). This act prevents U.S. companies from exporting American oil. This issue is debated and not all refineries support the issue. Still, in the long run, the repeal of this act could stimulate even more exports from the Texas coast. The challenges are training our workforce to take advantage of these future opportunities and finding a solution to the windstorm insurance problem. This windstorm insurance issue is a major threat to our coastal economy. The problem is we are 14 counties against Texas. So once again I will travel to Galveston on May 22 to visit with other coastal chambers, businesses and elected officials in an attempt to develop an answer to this problem.
Port of Port Arthur
I was excited to see the Port Arthur Port Authority received a grant for one million dollars for improvements on the Port. One of my favorite spots to park is on the seawall in Port Arthur. There is something magical about watching a large ship easing down the channel. One can’t help imagine what destinations might be on the schedule. From the top of this protective wall you can see Port Arthur’s past and future.
At one hundred and fourteen years old the chamber is the oldest economic development organization in Port Arthur. While we are proud of our achievements no organization can work alone. That is why the chamber belongs to REDI (Regional Economic Development Initiative). This group is an organization of the area economic development organizations. At the last meeting the potential projects listed and being pursued totaled 10.7 billion dollars. If all were to be landed they would create 2915 jobs for the area. From 2005 – 2014 this organization and its members have been responsible for 50.1 billion dollars in projects and the creation of 1293 jobs. Before you call me and ask for the proposed projects these are confidential and the real company names are coded. As stated, these projects cover a multiple county area.
Workforce Initiatives Task Force
The purpose of this Task Force is to identify the different opportunities to train and employee more Port Arthur area citizens. The main objective is on Port Arthur. Ira McNeil is the chairperson and the members are area organizations, industries and businesses. The discussions centered on how we can take advantage of existing programs or create new ones.
It is a difficult subject because you have to determine the needs and then find people who want to be trained. You also have to find funding for these programs. The most important partners in this process are Lamar State College, LIT, PAISD and private training institutions.
At the last meeting the committee agreed to work with Lamar State College and Golden Pass in an attempt to address jobs training issues. We also agreed to research a Youth Grant with LIT and a local non-profit group to see if there were some funds available to train our 18 – 24 year old citizens for constructions jobs. The EDC program was discussed and the possibility of assisting in the forming of a Manufactures Association. The meetings can be disheartening because of the complexity of the issue but we must continue trying. If this issue is of interest to you call Ira McNeil at the Workforce Commission.