2015 successful year for PA Economic Development Corporation

Published 3:34 pm Thursday, December 31, 2015


2015 was a successful year for the Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation’s board of directors and staff.

“I would like to say the greatest success for 2015 is my board and staff’s commitment and focus on growing our business community and making sure that Port Arthur residents are prepared for the many jobs that our growing business community has created,” Floyd Batiste, Port Arthur EDC director, said.

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The year began with the board setting goals they wanted to accomplish starting with the move to the EDC’s new building at 501 Procter St. in downtown Port Arthur.

By April, the rehabilitation of the historical building was complete and ready for the EDC and the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce to move into.

Job creation for Port Arthur residents was also at the forefront of the EDC’s goals and objectives for the year.

The EDC board during 2015 completed a year-long agreement with Pure Renewable, agreeing to provide the company a $1.5 million economic incentive for $16 million in wages for Port Arthur residents over a four-year period.

Port Arthur’s EDC also partnered with Texas Workforce Commission, Southeast Texas Workforce Solutions Board, and Team Fabricators to create a high demand welding training program to train Port Arthur residents for good paying jobs.

Another employment opportunity for Port Arthur residents was realized through an EDC/Lamar State College-Port Arthur partnership to create a Class B truck/bus driving training program.

The program has been an excellent success, Batiste said.

Also in the area of employment, the EDC board renewed for the third year a Life Skills Training Program with Jerih World Ministry, again with much success, Batiste said.

In an effort to bring more people into the city’s downtown area, and to support Lamar State College-Port Arthur, the EDC board finalized an agreement to fund the college a $1 million conditional grant and a $1 million loan. The money will be used for construction of student housing on the Lamar campus.

During 2015 several new EDC board members and new staff personnel attended sales tax training, basic economic development training and strategic training. Board and staff also attended the International Economic Development Council Annual Economic Seminar.

The EDC’s move to the Procter Street building was not the only push to revitalize downtown. The EDC board approved $200,000 for additional improvements to the downtown pavilion, $400,000 for improvements to Peoples Park in downtown Port Arthur, as well as $250,000 in funding for five downtown improvement applicants.

The year came to a close with the board receiving its Texas Historical Certification for 501 Procter and $1.1 million in state historical tax credits.

The EDC board also approved the purchase of an additional 141 acres of land adjacent to the current Business Park. The land will be used for future economic development and business growth.

Looking to the future, the EDC board requested Port Arthur City Council to place on its May 2016 election ballot two propositions for Port Arthur residents to decide. The first would allow special use sales taxes for street and maintenance. The second proposition would be a down payment for affordable single family dwelling on or near Fifth and Sixth Streets near Lamar State College-Port Arthur.

“I look forward to 2016 knowing the board’s belief that successful businesses make a successful community,” Batiste said. “I see my direction for 2016 will be to continue our diverse business community and training Port Arthur residents and increasing the city tax base.”

E-mail: sherry.koonce@panews.com

Twitter: skooncePANews