MARY MEAUX — Star Wars and Port Arthur: A New Hope for EDC CEO

Published 12:36 am Thursday, March 30, 2023

Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation CEO Terry Stokes is quick to tell people the organization doesn’t just compete locally or regionally, it competes globally.

Stokes, who was hired late last year to lead the PAEDC, said he and his board are mindful of the rich foundation upon which they are building and of the many successes that brought the PAEDC to the point it is today.

Stokes has a number of issues the organization would be focusing on to keep the area competitive and successful.

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“Make no doubt about it, the area has to have additional outside investment,” Stokes told a crowd this week during the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Breakfast. “The Port Arthur EDC will continue to focus on attracting new industries, new businesses that aren’t presently here into the area. Bringing along with them not only their investment to the area but their employees and their families.”

This, in turn, brings more students to the school district and improves the tax base along with sales and real estate.

Stokes reiterated “in order for us to be successful and in order for the community to be successful, outside investment will have to continue to be a focus.”

But it’s not just that.

There must be a platform provided for the next generation of entrepreneurs, he said. Not just homegrown entrepreneurs but importing entrepreneurs as well.

Stokes also spoke of the need for workforce development and youth development and making sure we are focused on the hire-ability as well as the skillset of our youth in order to fill the jobs that are online today and prepare for the future.

Stokes would also like to see a revitalized and reinvigorated downtown, which is near and dear to his heart given the PAEDC headquarters are based downtown.

The downtown resurgence is already ongoing with the construction of the Renaissance at Lakeshore Apartments and new businesses along Procter Street.

Development won’t happen overnight

“We have a number of partners, whether it be the City of Port Arthur, as well as a wide range of industries that are keen on helping us play a role in the revitalization of downtown,” he said. “And that will be our focus. To our many stakeholders and partners, I asked you to come along with us on this journey. Come along with us and dream big as we will dream big. Aim high as we aim high.”

A self-professed Star Wars aficionado, Stokes likened economic development to “Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope.”

“We were introduced to the Jedi warriors providing a new hope for the Empire. And that is what the Port Arthur EDC is going to be focused upon in terms of helping the community, providing a new hope as we move into the future,” he said.

Mary Meaux is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at