President's Blog

Feb 28, 2017



The Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce is two months into 2017 and are celebrating great news from Lamar State College Port Arthur. The Sheila McCarthy Umphrey Industrial Technology Building is under construction. This project would not be possible without generous funding from individual and companies.  To date, the companies that have made donations include the Port Arthur Industrial Group, Golden Pass Terminal LLC and Golden Pass Refining LLC, Total Petrochemicals & Refining USA, Inc, and BASF. The campus genuinely appreciates the support we receive from so many individuals and companies.  Donations make a significant difference to the future health of the campus.


Dr. Betty Reynard was also excited to announce that Lamar State College Port Arthur was also recognized by the Aspen Institute for Community College Excellence as one of the top 150 community colleges in the United States. The Aspen Institute recognizes institutions with exceptional student outcomes in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and access and success for minority and low-income students.  


A good education system is one of the main goals for the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce. In the three years, we have operated the Port Arthur Education Foundation, the community has contributed almost $150,000.00 for scholarships and teacher grants. The new year promises to be even better.   On February 28, 2017, from 11am until 1pm at the Bob Bowers Civic Center, the Port Arthur Education Foundation Luncheon will feature Dr. Betty Reynard – Lamar State College Port Arthur, Dr. Mark Porterie – Port Arthur ISD and Mr. Andy Bates - Sabine Pass ISD speaking on education in Port Arthur, Texas. Barbara Phillips – Valero, has agreed to be the Chairperson of the Board for the Foundation and Joe Tant is the Executive Director. The proceeds from this luncheon go to the foundation for teacher grants.

Education and Transportation are import but so is providing networking events for our members to meet and get to know area businesses and industries. Perhaps the biggest networking event held by the chamber is the annual banquet. The 117th Annual Banquet of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber was held on January 19 at the Bob Bowers Civic Center. Five hundred and twenty guest registered for this event and witnessed Marian Ruiz – Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP, take over as Chairperson of the Board. Retiring directors were recognized along with the Ambassador of the year, Blaine Caillier with First Financial Bank and Business of the Year, Elizabeth Cravens’ Mid-America Contractors LLC. Vicki Derese – Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP, was also recognized as the outgoing Chairperson of the Port Arthur Education Foundation. Besides recognizing outgoing directors and officers, the chamber was proud to award Mrs. Hargie Faye Jacobs- Savoy, a lifelong resident of Port Arthur, Texas, the Arthur E. Stilwell Award. The award was presented by the 2015 recipient, Jeff Hayes, who was assisted by outgoing Chairperson of the Board, Barbara Phillips. The annual banquet is an event designed to highlight the chamber’s year and show appreciation for those that made it happen. It also offers a networking for those attending.

Legislation is another important goal of the chamber and on March 5, 6 and 7, 2017 the Golden Triangle Days in Austin will spotlight the legislative agenda for the area. This is a combined effort between Beaumont, Orange and Port Arthur chambers. We are joined by Nederland, Groves and Port Neches to host 350 area leaders at events with our State Legislative members. The event begins with a reception at the Driskill Hotel on Sunday evening. This informal event allows networking with area business leaders, our Legislative officials and their staff. Monday there will be five sessions at the Robert E. Johnson building behind the capitol. These sessions will cover Health Care, Education, Transportation, Environment and Infrastructure. Guest speakers will address legislation for each of these topics. Monday will wrap up with a party at the Pecan Springs Ranch, outside of Austin, and will include networking, food, beverages and live music provided by Shinyribs. Buses will be available for transportation and private parking will be available for those that wish to drive their own vehicles. South Southwest Austin is there the next weekend so all the intown facilities were reserved.

This event is very important to our area. With oil prices down and reduction in property taxes, funding for education and transportation is going to be tight. We must visit with our elected representatives to ensure the Golden Triangle is known and our projects get funded.

If you wish to register for any of these events or become part of a 117-year-old organization that represents business in our area by concentrating on Education, Transportation and Legislation, call Paige Snyder at 409-963-1107.

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