STEPHEN HEMELT — Greater Port Arthur The Magazine showcases our special, unique stories

Published 12:22 am Friday, February 10, 2023

The Hispanic Business Association of SETX is a prepared and active group.

Having restructured in 2022 with new paperwork, membership system, board of directors, bylaws, goals, website and social media presence, these business leaders and future entrepreneurs are ready to make an impact in 2023.

That is likely to take place because of how much has already been accomplished.

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Association President Raquel Ochoa said when you have this many involved members that means there are many ideas coming from smart people.

“All of them are good ideas, but of course we can’t do everything,” she said. “The hardest part has been saying ‘no’ to some of them or putting them in our ‘one day’ list. We want to be very intentional with the things we do, because we know everyone has a busy schedule. We want to value their time.”

To adjust with a networking group of more than 70 businesses, the leadership team is choosing to focus on initiatives that align with the Business Association’s mission and vision.

“Any time we do something, whether it’s something big or small, we want to do it with excellence,” Ochoa said. “That means we have to be selective.”

Executive Director Erika Banda Meza said seeing the community come together and knowing the group’s new and future business leaders have formed a network is the most exciting part.

“We make everyone feel like a part of a team, where they can turn to if they need support and also to celebrate their accomplishments,” Meza said. “I get inspired seeing people succeed and seeing them accomplish things. They come to us and say how much being a part of HBA helped them be more confident and determined to reach their goals.”

Many thanks goes to Ochoa and Meza, who sat down with Port Arthur Newsmedia recently to share the recent accomplishments and what’s planned in 2023 for the Hispanic Business Association of SETX.

That story is one of the spotlight articles featured in 2023 Volume 1 of Greater Port Arthur The Magazine, which is available now.

Another feature focuses on the undeniable force of Russel Buss.

The Port Arthur resident is a dedicated member of the Rotary Club of Port Arthur and Masonic Lodge on Lakeshore Drive. He can also be frequently found at a LifeShare Blood Center donation site.

“I hope I’ve helped some people,” he told interviewer Monique Batson recently.

Statistically, he’s helped more than 250. It was Batson who was with him a few weeks back when Buss donated his 91st pint of blood.

His story includes impact and information from local experts explaining the state of our blood reserves in Southeast Texas.

Veteran journalist Mary Meaux also recently caught up with Cindy Thomas to speak about her venture: The Cottage Quilting + Embroidery on Nall Street in Port Neches.

The shop stocks fabric, notions, zippers, sewing machine needles and such, and Thomas creates quilts. Thomas said she loves taking quilt tops that have been passed down and creating something usable. She also works with memory quilts, T-shirt quilts and commissioned quilts, such as for a wedding.

The location has fostered a network of quilters who gather and share tips and tricks about this connective passion, which has been passed down for generations.

“A big part of the feel of this to me is that little girl playhouse where you want all your friends to come, share my toys, bring your toys just sit and visit,” Thomas said.

These story spotlights make up less than half of what Volume 1 of the magazine offers, which in its most basic form, is a showcase of the people, places and efforts that make Port Arthur and surrounding communities an amazing place to call home.

Those interested in picking up a complimentary copy can stop by The Port Arthur News at 2349 Memorial Blvd.

If you are interested in beginning a six-issue mailed subscription, call the office at 409-721-2400.

These are important stories and would not be possible without the support of advertisers and sponsors featured in the edition. Please consider their goods and services in the future.

Stephen Hemelt is the president of Port Arthur Newsmedia, which publishes,  The Port Arthur News and Greater Port Arthur The Magazine. He can be reached at or 409-721-2445.