Opportunity is here: We must do the rest

Published 2:25 pm Wednesday, April 4, 2018


Enthusiasts for liquefied natural gas who gathered in Port Arthur recently — they included high-ranking Polish officials — trumpeted an opportunity that exists on both sides of the Atlantic. Let’s focus on our opportunities.

The Polish people showed their entrepreneurial side through the likes of Polskie LNG and through Michal Kurtyka, the country’s visiting undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Energy. Their stated goal: To become an LNG hub in central and eastern Europe. We admire that ambition.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

From this side of the Atlantic and, more specifically, Greater Port Arthur, business and industrial leaders signed a pact to keep on talking about exporting LNG, which is flowing through this end of the Gulf of Mexico coast to trade partners.

Poland also has a limited contract with nearby Cheniere Energy — its LNG trains are so close to Port Arthur you feel you could reach over the Sabine and touch them — and seems to appreciate the connection. We’ve got our own burgeoning LNG community on this side of the Sabine. Hence our opportunity.

That’s why we’re encouraged by recent signals that enrollment is solid if not booming at Lamar University and Lamar State College Port Arthur, two institutions of higher learning who could go a long way toward providing generations of employees for the LNG industry and other good jobs in South East Texas. Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey have not destroyed that important pipeline of educated and skilled workers to the energy and energy-related plants on our shoreline.

The campuses through their complementary strengths could produce the engineers and accountants and administrators and skilled technicians and others who can fully staff the LNG industry and more in this industry rich region.

But opportunity does not guarantee success. It’s incumbent on the potential workforce here to take advantage of opportunities that geography and geology have presented us. The Polish leaders were visiting us because Texas is energy rich and this region is uniquely suited to process and present at our ports goods the world needs.

That said, our region oftentimes lacks the workforce that is willing to do what they must do to qualify for high-paying jobs energy and related industries provide.

The Beaumont-Port Arthur Metropolitan Statistical Area generally trails the state in full or near-full employment. That’s a longstanding fact. The most recent statistics show us fourth from the bottom among 27 Texas MSAs. Before that we were tied for last. Shame on us.

When opportunity knocks, our young people must be ready: educated, motivated, prepared and drug free. The schools are doing their part. Parents and students must do theirs. The colleges are here to prepare them. It’s up to our people to do the rest.

The door is open. Our workers must be ready to walk through it.