One hundred and sixteen years ago the organization that was to become the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce held its first annual banquet. In 1899 this city was a few buildings and dirt streets. In a book, about Port Arthur, I read that Port Arthur streets on a Saturday were crowded with a mixture of seafarers, businessmen (accompanied by their well dressed women) wagons, horses, wandering herds of cattle and swarms of mosquitoes. It was a town in the process of growing into the Star of the Gulf Coast.
The 116th banquet of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce ushered in the leadership of Barbara Phillips. Lending their resources will be a board o 28 business leaders in the new Port Arthur. While the streets are paved, cattle penned, wagons in the museum, horses stabled and the mosquitoes held to minimum by modern science, the men and women were out in their finest
Jeff Hayes, local commercial real estate and developer, received the Arthur E. Stilwell Award from last year’s recipient Floyd Marceaux. Patti Harrington- Caldwell Banker Southern Homes was recognized as Ambassador of the Year, Armor Shred received Business of the Year and Paul Chargois received his Immediate Past Chairman’s Plaque. The business leaders enjoyed a good meal while showing their appreciation to those who gave their time and resources to make 2015 a successful year for the chamber.
Chairperson Phillips outlined her plan for 2016 which included Education, Transportation and Legislation. These are the tools necessary to accomplish our Economic Development goals for the future.
One change will be the redirection of the Economic Development Committee. This committee will become the Community Development Committee. Since the Port Arthur Economic Development Council has the tax money to address the attraction of the larger industries the chamber will concentrate on the existing businesses and the programs it helps to make them successful.
The chamber will continue working towards becoming an accredited chamber of commerce. Other projects will be a committee to complete the process for Port Arthur to become a Recognized Coast Guard City and the Contractors Business Development Committee. The Contractors Business Development Committee will be an organization of local and area contractors that will meet each month to share leads of ongoing and upcoming construction projects on the Gulf Coast. We will partner with the same type group that currently exists in Louisiana.
This year is off to an exciting start with new opportunities and ongoing efforts in uncompleted projects. The Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce will continue to be proud of its 116 years of success and look forward to the future. We will continue to be the voice of business in Port Arthur and a driving force for economic development. If you wish to be a part of this successful team call 409-963-1107 and ask for Paige or Bill.