Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce, Cheniere to hold business seminar Tuesday

Published 11:27 pm Friday, October 5, 2012

The Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce is teaming up with Cheniere Energy Inc. to bring business to Port Arthur.

The chamber is sponsoring a business seminar Oct. 9 in conjunction with Cheniere at the Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center at Lamar State College-Port Arthur. The seminar would provide an opportunity for local businesses to see what requirements Cheniere has for contractors and vendors that want to do business with the energy company as it completes its liquefaction expansion project in Sabine Pass.

While Bechtel Corp. has been selected as the major contractor for the liquefaction project, Cheniere would still need additional subcontractors to work with Bechtel, said Jason French, spokesman for Cheniere.

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The liquefaction project is a significant, $10 billion project after all, he said. Cheniere held a similar seminar in Johnson Bayou and had around 400 people show up.

But the energy company wanted to reach out to the people of Port Arthur, French said, and the chamber provided the perfect opportunity to speak to local folks.

The Cheniere seminar was not directed toward major contractors, said Bill McCoy, President of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce. It is for all businesses, whether they sell ice or toothbrushes, he said.

Contractors might be in the neighborhood for some nails or screws and need to find a hardware store, he said. That is business the hardware store might not have had otherwise.

“People are looking for places to go,” McCoy said. “They are looking for the small person passing through Port Arthur.”

But that is not all of what would be offered at the seminar, McCoy said.

“When we get through, we hope to have everyone ready to do business in Port Arthur,” he said.

The Lamar State College Small Business Development Center plans to attend to demonstrate how small businesses can join the Historically Underutilized Business Program. To join, 51 percent of the business must be owned by an Asian Pacific American, Black American, Hispanic American, Native American and/or an American woman, according to the Texas HUB Program website.

The owner must also reside in Texas and have an active interest and participation in the company’s affairs. The program was designed to help businesses that have not been used much in the past with the state procurement requirements by providing HUBs with information on the procurement process, according to the HUB site.

Janis Hutchins, who operates the Port Arthur Business Enterprise Program, would be on hand at the seminar, as well, to discuss the benefits of the program and how businesses can join. The business must have its headquarters in Port Arthur or at least a “significant presence,” McCoy said.

“We will try to make it easy for them,” he said.

But McCoy emphasized the need for businesses to advertise their services. He said it was not enough to become a part of these programs and not knock on doors or advertise.

“You still have to let people know you are there. You got to get out there and get with it,” he said. “If you don’t sell yourself, you won’t have an edge.”

The chamber had 55 people signed up for the seminar as of Friday, he said.