Golden Triangle industrial boom is here; “It’s a time when there is a lot of training needed”

Published 12:16 pm Wednesday, April 12, 2023

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“It’s almost raining money in this area.”

The statement by Ben Stafford, vice president for the Lamar State College Port Arthur Workforce and Continuing Education Department, was illustrated by the multitude of speakers and announcements at Wednesday’s Contractors Business Development Group Meeting.

The monthly event held at the Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center highlighted examples of $171 billion in projects planned in the areas of Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana.

Kelly Prassar, director of external affairs for Sempra Infrastructure, speaks Wednesday at the Contractors Business Development Group Meeting. (Monique Batson/The News)

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Kelly Prassar, director of external affairs for Sempra Infrastructure, spoke on the timeline of Port Arthur LNG.

“I’ve been working on the Port Arthur LNG project…for almost 20 years now. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been trying to get this project over the finish line for the last 20 years,” she said. “So I’ve got all of this exciting energy for this project largely because everybody in this room has been a champion for Sempra.”

The company announced last month that it had reached a final investment decision and would move forward with Phase 1 of the Jefferson County project — an estimated $13 billion project.

“There are three terminals, folks, that are going to be built within a stone’s throw,” Prassar said. “You’ve got Golden Pass, you’ve got Port Arthur LNG and Chenier right across the border in Louisiana over on the Sabine Pass side. And it’s amazing to think…about all the good energy going on in Port Arthur right now and Sabine Pass.”

She also highlighted other recently announced projects, such as the groundbreaking on an $8.5 billion joint venture between Chevron Phillips Chemical and Qatar Energy in Orange County.

“Looking at all the growth and development just over the last 20 years, this is the place to be, and you guys are all here helping us get projects over the finish line,” Prassar said.

Stafford highlighted grants available through the Texas Workforce Commission aimed at employee training.

“In a time when there’s a lot of work going on, it’s a time when there is a lot of training needed,” he said.

The Skills Development Fund can provide an average of $2,000 per new and incumbent workers to for-profit companies with 100 or more employees.

For-profit and non-profit companies with 100 employees or less are eligible for $1,800 to train a new employee and $900 per year to bring existing employees up to skill.

“Small business is the backbone of Texas and Texas does not ignore that,” Stafford said, saying that the funds can be applied for each year but not for the same training.

Le Short, vice president of construction at Mason Construction, talks on the company’s commitment to safety. (Monique Batson/The News)

Le Short, vice president of construction at Mason Construction, spoke on the company’s history since first opening in 1939, as well as its commitment to safety.

“We’ve changed drastically over the years as far as services we offer and things we do for our customers, but one thing has always remained the same. Safety on every project is paramount,” he said. “We honestly believe that, even in today’s market, the handshake…means something. It’s our word; it’s our bond.”

The Contractors Business Development Group meets at 9 a.m. on the second Wednesday of each month and is sponsored by the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce.