PHOTO GALLERY — Area leaders reflect on Golden Triangle Days, bring local message to Austin

Published 12:48 am Saturday, March 4, 2023

After spending two days in Austin with legislators, leaders in Jefferson and Orange counties say this year’s Golden Triangle Days was a success.

“We went there prepared with a legislative agenda from Jefferson County and Orange County, and we presented that agenda of what we needed here in the Golden Triangle,” said Jefferson County Constable Christopher Bates, who was in attendance for his third year. “We visited with our legislators and let them know what we’re looking to have in our area and the issues that were most important for the people that reside in the Golden Triangle.”

Golden Triangle Days formed in 2007 as a combined initiative from chambers in Port Arthur, Orange and Beaumont to bring local leaders face-to-face with legislators. This year’s event took place Monday and Tuesday.

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“The biggest benefit to it is I did 11 meetings up there with different groups, and you’re able to do that because you’re in the same place at the same time,” said Orange County Judge John Gothia. “That would normally take multiple trips. It makes for very busy days, but you get a lot accomplished in a short period of time.”

The benefit of networking was also named as a key factor.

“It gets us out of our silo mentally and makes us realize that the Golden Triangle has the same issues, whether it’s Orange County, Jefferson County, etc.,” said Pat Avery, president and CEO of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce. “The sessions were informative. We got to hear from almost every aspect of the priorities that are important to us — education, economic development, transportation and infrastructure, workforce and healthcare.”

During Golden Triangle Days, the legislative priorities are broken into categories.

“We spent time with Speaker (Dade) Phelan, who let us know some of the priorities of the state itself and talked about the rainy day fund, which has the largest surplus in the state’s history,” Avery said.

The Texas Economic Stabilization Fund, commonly called the rainy day fund, is projected to have more than $27 billion by 2025.

“We all have things that are more important to us in our communities, but the fact that we have our two-county region together and chambers and elected officials at the same time — typically what’s beneficial for Orange County is beneficial for Jefferson County and what’s beneficial for Jefferson County is beneficial for Orange County,” Gothia said.

Avery said, following the session, she is confident legislators have Southeast Texas in mind.

“With the economic development, prosperity and things that we need in this area to drive these new businesses in our area, the state knows how important Southeast Texas is to the economy — not just the Texas economy but the world,” she said.

More than 350 community leaders from Jefferson and Orange counties attended this year’s event.

“It was very, very well attended by the delegates from the Golden Triangle,” Bates said. “I would call it a success.”