Port Arthur Chamber chair shares memories, successes of challenging year

Published 12:34 am Friday, January 28, 2022

Outgoing Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce Chairperson Ron Arceneaux knew his role with the organization would be a challenge as businesses across the world looked to rebound from 2020 in 2021.

However, Arceneaux said he feels as though the chamber exceeded expectations thanks to the executive staff’s dedication to local businesses.

“I believe (2021) went very well considering some of the obstacles we had with COVID and other interruptions,” he said. “Overall, if membership is a measure of success, we had about a 20 percent increase in our membership. I think we stand at about 670 members. We are financially sound.

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“But drilling down, our success has to do more with the services we can provide to our members. There were a number of things we were able to do in the year that shows how active our chamber is.”

The Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce will celebrate its 122 Annual Banquet “A Return to Progress” Feb. 17.

Register at portarthurtexas.com or call 409-963-1107 for individual pricing or table reservation.

Arceneaux said the pandemic brought on some unique challenges but added the chamber handled it with grace.

“When I started, we had the banquet, which is a big part of our fundraising efforts,” he said. “We also brought in some thinkers and other folks to share information with. That was a virtual banquet. In spite of that, it was well attended. People that arranged to attend were satisfied and pleased with all of it through virtual means. From the get go, we took steps to overcome. Our staff moved quickly to get that done. We were hoping to have an in-person event, but that was not meant to be.”

The outgoing chair said the year was full of learning opportunities.

“I knew our staff was the backbone,” he said. “Volunteers support that backbone. We have our executive board and our membership that goes way beyond the call of duty to get involved in activities that are great for the business community.”

The staff pulled together after the death of longtime chamber leader Paige Synder last year.

“They worked really hard to make the transition as smooth as they could in spite of the sadness,” Arceneaux said. “I commend them for all that they did to keep things going.”

Chamber President and CEO Pat Avery said Arceneaux navigated the pandemic well.

“His flexibility and agility was exactly what the chamber needed during a very difficult year,” she said. “Thanks to his leadership, the chamber flourished and made it through a tough time and did so in great shape, economically. The chamber team thanks Ron for his leadership. It made a difference to us.”

During the past year, the chamber sought to create more opportunities to help small businesses in the city.

“We have an ambassadors committee that helps to publicize and welcome new members that might be experiencing groundbreakings or new openings,” Arceneaux said. “It is a great experience to have the chamber support them and help with some of the arrangements. Another area that reaches out is the contractors development group, which is led by Travis Woods. He has put together the moving parts of these meetings…The attendance at the meetings would have hundreds. They are able to learn about industrial opportunities in the area. They go step by step on how to do business in those plants. That has been a great resource.”

Arceneaux said he is proud of what the chamber has been able to accomplish and looks forward to the next chapter.