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EDITORIAL — Locals have chance to share in success

The Industry Show at the Bob Bowers Civic Center on Thursday gave ready testimony that not all is amiss in Port Arthur. In some corners of our community, business is booming. That’s a great thing and the benefits are unfolding.

Presented by the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce, the show provided the setting for contractors and local businesses and plant representatives to talk about possibilities. About 600 people took that opportunity.

Travis Woods, who chairs the chamber’s Contractors Business Development Group, said that in some cases, area plants and major local businesses in and around Port Arthur are “Googling” for goods and services when goods and services may be available from companies right here. Sometimes, there’s no need to look elsewhere.

It’s all about marketing, Woods said. Opportunities like Thursday’s “get the businesses closer to the plants.”

“It creates one-on-one situations,” he said. “You can’t get that from just calling a number at Motiva.”

“It provides a venue for our employees to know local companies they don’t yet know,” said Motiva spokeswoman Verna Rutherford. “We can drive local business.”

Thursday’s show was more about initiating and building upon relationships than making an immediate deal, Louis Hernandez of Hernandez Office Solutions said. He’s just moved his corporate headquarters to Port Arthur; now, he said, he’s reestablishing contacts and making new ones.

In truth, there’s much more going on at an Industry Show than solely what is happening around the booths of the major plants. The chamber’s Joe Tant recounted that he was standing next to the Workforce Solutions booth Thursday when a veteran walked up with his resume, looking for a job. Those in the booth began helping him right away.

Elsewhere, information was exchanged about local services like drug testing. Companies needn’t go to Houston for that service, not anymore.

While some folks want direct contacts with the major plants, others found opportunities Thursday through contractors who are working within the plant. Tant said the plants like Golden Pass have extended themselves well into the community to encourage and energize ambitious local companies.

“If you make donuts, if you cut grass, if you do printing,” Tant said, there are opportunities locally.

That, he said, is something that local people must embrace: Local business success hasn’t been limited to a handful of pricy plants or an upper echelon of people from somewhere else. Nor is it limited to the 600 people who attended the Industry Show.

Workforce development programs offered locally by institutions like Lamar State College Port Arthur have created the conditions for many success stories on many levels across this community. Those success stories are institutional and personal.

“Local people can have a piece of this pie,” Tant said.

You’ve just got to go after it.