Incoming, outgoing Chamber directors speak on accomplishments and goals

Published 11:03 pm Thursday, January 26, 2023

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Growth, achievement and appreciation was the theme by the outgoing and incoming chairmen for the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce Thursday at the 123rd annual banquet.

“Folks, I’m happy to be here tonight. You heard I’m outgoing chairman, right?” joked outgoing chair Stuart Salter. “This is my last official duty. And I was telling my wife earlier, ‘I think it might be my last public speaking event.’”

Quickly after he launched into accomplishments made by the chamber in the last year.

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“We surpassed most of our goals, both in membership and revenue, and greatly improved our effectiveness throughout the community,” he said.

Salter listed several accomplishments:

• The Chamber of Commerce’s Hispanic Business Council formed their own nonprofit. “When past president Bill McCoy first established this group several years ago, it was because the Hispanic business community really didn’t feel like they were part of our community…,” Salter said. “The Chamber of Commerce was happy to help with that. The contacts were made. And now, having done that, I’m proud to say the Hispanic community is just now another part of the business community. And we’re all better for it.”

• The Contractors’ Business Development Group grew. Contractors from Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana gather at the Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center once a month to review what is in the plans as well as what is coming. “It’s important for us as a chamber to give our members a heads up — a leg up — on what’s coming, and that’s what we’re here to do,” Salter said.

• This past year the chamber had their most successful Industry Show ever in its 123-year history. “We had 123 companies participate, and over 1,100 buyers and sellers here at the Civic Center. We were packed, and business was being done.”

• This year’s banquet sold out with a capacity of 842 chairs. ‘This is our No. 1 fundraiser,” he said. “We really appreciate you coming out. It’s how we pay the bills around here. And it’s not just the big corporations. It’s the small business. It’s the individuals who buy individual memberships…that makes this work. Without the volunteers deeply involved, we can’t do this.”

Salter introduced incoming chairman Randy Sonnier.

Sonnier has been with TotalEnergies for 32 years, where he currently serves as industrial procurement manager. He is also a member of the Nederland City Council, representing Ward 3. In addition, Sonnier has been an active member of the chamber for more than 25 years.

“I promised Pat this would not be a sermon night,” he said to the crowd. “So there will be no offering plates, and I can continue as long as I want to. Sorry, Pat.”

While speaking on the area’s contributions, Sonnier said Jefferson County accounts for .0007 percent of the U.S. population, while the area supplies 13 percent of all fuel — diesel, gasoline and jet fuel.

“So Port Arthur is a big deal,” he said.

Sonnier spoke on recently completed projects, including expansion by Chenier Energy, investments through Golden Pass LNG and Sempra LNG, as well as the dredging of the Sabine-Neches waterway.