New Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce president talks community engagement

Published 12:20 am Friday, January 12, 2024

Joe Tant uses a simple word when describing the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce’s vision for 2024 — engagement.

“Engagement with our members, engagement with the community, engagement with small business, industry, contractors and our community and our city,” said Tant, the recently hired president of the Chamber.

“Being engaged, being involved, understanding that the Chamber is not industry only or small business. It’s all of that together.”

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Chamber membership grew by 106 new members last year and is now at 700 members for the year, Tant said.

The engagement also means strengthening relationships with surrounding Chambers and not just during Golden Triangle Days in Austin — a biannual event at the state capitol that brings the chambers together armed with a set of priorities important to their communities.

Then there will be reengaging with entities such as Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce, Texas Chamber of Commerce and American Chamber of Commerce.

Tant is also looking forward to reengaging with the Chamber’s Young Emerging Leaders group.

Joe Tant said he is excited and ready to lead the Chamber moving forward. (Mary Meaux/The News)

“That is a going to be the future of Port Arthur,” he said. “We want to make sure those folks in that 18- to 39-year age range get involved in the right way, taking them from being a volunteer organization to learning and having mentors. Get with each of those individuals and help them move forward.”

In addition, the 124-year-old Chamber has already reengaged with the historical committee, as there is information leaders do not want lost.

Tant’s transition into his new role as president of the organization will likely be smooth. He has been with the Chamber for 12 years, serving as vice president of finance and, as of late December, chosen as the president of the organization with the retirement of Pat Avery.

Randy Sonnier, outgoing chairman of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce, said Tant’s experience is a benefit, adding the executive board is helping outline the path forward to where local leaders see the Chamber going.

Tant is executive director of the Chamber’s education foundation, which is not very active at this time as it is the beginning of a new school semester. He said there are several individuals with the Chamber who can step in and assist without missing a beat.

“I don’t feel like there will be anything lost in translation,” he said of the natural transition from vice presidency to presidency. “We have a very strong, engaged board.”

Sonnier also noted Tant works well with the Education Foundation, Lamar State College Port Arthur and the college’s president, Dr. Betty Reynard.

“We have high hopes and high expectations, and I think he’s up to it,” Sonnier said.

The Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce is holding its 124th Annual Banquet at 6 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Bob Bowers Civic Center.

For more information on the banquet call the Chamber at 409-963-1107.