Training facility program moving forward after discovery document was missing; local workers targeted

Published 12:38 am Thursday, June 15, 2023

A partnership between the City of Port Arthur, its economic development corporation and Lamar State College Port Arthur remains on track despite the discovery of an unsigned document.

The agreement pertains to the rehabilitation of the old armory on the LSCPA campus and creating an Industrial Skills Training Center for the training of 100 Port Arthur residents over the course of five years.

City Manager Ron Burton realized he could not find the 2019 Memorandum Of Understanding dealing with the partnership and notified the college.

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“The absence of the signed document will have no effect on our partnership,” LSCPA Vice President for Workforce and Continuing Education Dr. Ben Stafford said. “Lamar State College Port Arthur and the City of Port Arthur have been partners in seeking the benefit of Port Arthur residents for more than 100 years. We each remember the document and we each agree to its terms. The College would never abandon its responsibility to its partners or to the residents of the city.”

Port Arthur EDC Executive Director Terry Stokes notified his board of directors of the issue this week. He believes they can accelerate the timeline to have the 100 Port Arthur residents trained over a three-year period, he said.

“This Memorandum Of Understanding outlines the agreement between ourselves and the college in terms of what was expected and in terms of performance in return for the contribution that we made to the overall facility,” Stokes said during Monday night’s meeting.

The college’s legal department has reviewed the document and it will now go before the Port Arthur EDC’s legal team to review and polish. From there it will be presented to the EDC board during the July meeting and, if ratified, would go before the Port Arthur City Council for approval.

The resolution previously approved by the City Council shows the Port Arthur EDC is a co-applicant with the college for grant funding in the amount of $5 million, which required a $1 million match from the EDC.

Moving forward

In the document, LSCPA agrees to train 100 Port Arthur residents at no cost to the resident or to the city over a 5-year period, Stafford said.

“With all of the workers that Sempra will need in their project, we are all very hopeful that we can serve this number of residents in fewer than five years,” Stafford said, adding he does not know if the new language will be placed in the agreement or be a working goal.

The Industrial Skills Training Center is not yet open, as the project to renovate the building is approaching the final punch list.

Stafford said the college is recruiting students to train for their CDL now for the Bechtel project and actively recruiting residents of Port Arthur for these positions.

In addition the college is planning an all-female cohort of carpenter students in the fall and will be recruiting Port Arthur residents for this, as well.

“For all practical purposes, all is progressing as it would have if the agreement had been signed back in 2019,” Stafford said. “The college is actively bringing the building into production and recruiting and training Port Arthur residents for high paying jobs.”