Councilmembers discuss training to better guide future of Port Arthur EDC

Published 12:38 am Tuesday, December 21, 2021

As talks continue about the type of Economic Development Corporation the City of Port Arthur wants to operate, one councilmember suggested all members attend training next year to better understand the operations of EDCs.

“In previous meetings we have discussed the type of Economic Development Corporation that we operate, and through those discussions it’s been bantered about amongst the council that we may want to attend a training session so we can better understand how EDCs operate in the state of Texas,” said Councilman Kenneth Marks.

“There is a basic EDC course that is provided by the Texas Economic Development Council…and I think we as a council may want to think about attending these to get a clear understanding of how the A and B type corporations operate and how they benefit the city.”

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The Port Arthur EDC is a Type A, which means the EDC operates as an independent board that reports to the council. A Type B EDC would allow two councilmembers to serve on the board.

Port Arthur is the only Type A EDC in South and Mid County.

This became a topic of contention in July when longstanding CEO Floyd Batiste resigned from the EDC, along with a board member and the organization’s legal counsel.

At the time of his board resignation, John Chirafis said, “I just didn’t like the direction (the council) was trying to take this board. There’s a lot of stuff going on there that I couldn’t be part of.”

When asked by Port Arthur Newsmedia about the comments, Mayor Thurman Bartie said, “If we decide to change it and they don’t want to stay, they’re doing the right thing. Change is difficult for the human race. I’m not alarmed, neither am I dismayed. But don’t blame the council.”

While no decision has been made to change the way in which the EDC operates, some councilmembers did informally agree Monday to attend a training session next year.

The three opportunities are in February, June and November.

Bartie opted for February, saying it fit better with his schedule.

“We don’t have to go as a group, but I think it would be good if we go as a group,” Marks said. “I think we should consider this.

A vote on the matter will be put on an agenda for January.