From the desk of Bill McCoy (October 2017)

Month 1, AFTER THE FLOOD. The flood closed the Port Arthur Chamber for about 10 days Not because our building flooded, but every employee had flooding in their house or their parents’ house. As soon as we returned, between trips to meet with insurance adjusters and contractors, the staff began finalizing plans for a local vendors and contractors workshop with CB&I on how to do business with CB&I on the TOTAL project and future projects in Port Arthur. This event was held on Sept. 27 at the Carl Parker Center in downtown Port Arthur. Ninety people attend the morning workshop and 160 attended the afternoon session. All who I spoke with indicated they received valuable information and contacts that will be helpful in moving forward.

I attended the September board meeting of the Texas Association of Business (TAB). I am pleased to report that near the end of September, the Eastern District of Texas granted the Chamber’s motion for a permanent injunction on the Obama administration’s overtime rule. As you are aware, the Obama administration’s rule would have resulted in salaried professional employees being converted to hourly wages, reduced workplace flexibility and remote electronic access to work, and halt opportunities for career advancement. The Greater Port Arthur Chamber joined with TAB and the U.S. Chamber in a lawsuit, resulting in this victory. We appreciate everyone who participated in our Webinars, signed our letter to Congress, and who participated in the comment period and lawsuit.

This legal victory means small businesses, nonprofits and other employers throughout the economy will not see excessive new labor costs and major disruptions in their day to day work.

The Chamber is looking forward to working with the Department of Labor on a new rule to create a more suitable update to the salary threshold.

The Chamber also met with the SBA to learn about long term, low interest loans that are available for businesses, individuals and nonprofit organizations. For businesses, you can borrow money for up to 30 years to rebuild, repair or replace your building and your contents. Also available are loans to help you pay invoices while you are rebuilding your client base. If your clients or customers were prevented from trading with you, could not get to you, or your employees could not get to work, causing lost business, you are eligible for these loans. If you are a homeowner or renter, there are loans available to you for repairs and contents. Finally, if you are a nonprofit organization, there are loans available for your loses also. If you are a business and need help filing your loan, Linda Tait at the Lamar State College-Port Arthur, Texas Gulf Coast SBDC at (409) 984-6530 will assist you in completing your loan application.

You can find the SBA Web link at www.portarthurtexas.com. You may also call the SBA and they will give you the information. This program is fast, and it works.

President Trump signed a tax relief bill sponsored by Sen. Cruz and cosponsored by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) that will allow those affected by flooding to deduct losses caused by the flooding. You can re-file your 2016 tax return or wait and claim it on your 2017 tax return. You are encouraged to research this bill and see how it can provide real relief in the form tax money being returned to you.

Golden Pass donated $1.5 million to help with Harvey recovery. The Chamber’s Port Arthur Education Foundation will be working with PAISD and Lamar State College Port Arthur to write grants in an attempt to direct some of this generous donation to help our students who were hurt by the flood. The Port Arthur Education Foundation was fortunate to be approached by Dell for $46,000 donation to purchase new equipment. Many of our companies are donating money, facilities and human resources to help our citizens get their lives back.

The Chamber will continue to work with businesses hit hard by the flood. The only requirement is they contact us and tell us what we can do to help. There have been very few businesses calling us to ask for help. As we identify needs, we will work to find resources. Anyone needing help may call us at (409) 963-1107.