With one month left in 2016, The Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce is preparing for its 117th Annual Awards Banquet. Mrs. Marian Ruiz, Chairperson for 2017, has secured Mr. Earl Heard-with BIC Magazine as our featured speaker. Another highlight of the evening will be Mr. Jeff Hayes, 2015 Arthur E. Stilwell Award Recipient, presenting Mrs. Hargie Faye Savoy with the 2016 Arthur E. Stilwell Award. The award will recognize a lifetime of dedicated service by Mrs. Savoy to her beloved city of Port Arthur, Texas.
The banquet marks the end and the beginning of the chamber’s year. While it marks the beginning of Marian Ruiz’s term as Chairperson it marks the end of the very successful year of Mrs. Barbara Phillips as Chairperson.
During Mrs. Phillips’ year the chamber accomplished many projects that benefited both the chamber and the community. Perhaps the major accomplishment was the submitting of our U.S. Chamber of Commerce Accreditation application in December. If approved it will be the 4th time our chamber has been recognized as one of the few accredited chambers in the nation.
This milestone was accomplished by two years of intense study of the chamber’s operations, facilities, finances, staff and structure. This effort was a team effort between the staff and volunteers, spearheaded by Membership and Events Director Paige Snyder.
The process spotlighted the chambers financial plan, directed by Joe Tant and supported by the Executive Committee and our communications and publications department. This electronic communications program under the direction of Raquel Ochoa, using Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, E-Mails and our website kept the staff in constant communication with our members and allowed us to tell our story to the community.
Joe Tant was also promoted to Executive Director of our Port Arthur Education Foundation. This program, designed to provide grants to PAISD AND SPISD teachers for unfunded innovative programs, has grown to almost $121,000.00 in funds. The program also includes some scholarships for higher education students. There is a special scholarship program, funded by Flint Hills for Career and Technical Education (CATE) students.
The chamber, at the direction of the Mayor, organized the Coast Guard City Task Force for the purpose of obtaining recognition for our city and our Coast Guard Units. This Task Force is cataloging existing Coast Guard/City programs and creating new ones where necessary. Their goal is to submit our application and receive this designation in 2017.
Our Legislative Committee has been active in supporting legislation that will encourage and support economic development in our state and opposing legislation and new regulations that will hurt existing business and scare off new business. Perhaps the best example of this effort, is our joining with the Texas Association of Business and other chambers in a lawsuit against the Department of Labor Overtime Rule.
The Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce is a membership driven organization. During 2016 our membership team brought in 95 new members bringing our membership total to 635 businesses. Our revenue is derived from these members through membership investment and non-dues revenue. For that reason, one of our main efforts is to entice new members while working to keep those we have. Paige Snyder is our Membership Director and Ron Fletcher with Entergy, is the volunteer that has taken a strong interest in insuring, in 2017, the chamber develops a stronger membership retention program.
Networking and fundraising are import to our chamber. To accomplish those items in 2016 the chamber the chamber held 4 Leadership Breakfasts, 4 Membership Luncheons, 8 Contractors Business Development meetings, numerous ribbon cuttings/groundbreakings, a bowling tournament, New Member Showcase, 10 morning business mixers, produced a resource guide, city map, community calendar, wrote 12 columns for the Business Journal, 5 articles for the Port Arthur News, numerous media interviews, elected new board members, conducted board planning retreat and approved our 2017 budget. With one month to go the chamber has made the most of our resources and the hours in 2016.
2017? BRING IT ON!