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Ron Arceneaux sees “comeback year” for Port Arthur, Chamber in 2021

Ron Arceneaux has lived in Port Arthur most of his life.

Now that he is the chairman for the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce, he hopes to be part of the reason the city in which he grew up has a resurgence.

“Our go-to industries in the past have been petrochemical and refining,” he said. “That is still strong. We encourage our businesses to do all they can to maintain their staff. Since we our home to the single largest refinery in the United States and the largest methanol facility in the United States, our strategic position in the national and worldwide market is still strong. Our port is very strong, as well. They are continuing their aggressive expansion program.”

Even with such a power footing, Arceneaux believes there is plenty of room for growth.

Arceneaux earned his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Lamar University. He also has licenses to be a professional engineer and land surveyor in the state.

“I’ve been in private business for 34 years now in Port Arthur,” he said. “My whole career has been in Port Arthur, either working for other firms or establishing my own firm in 1988. Currently, I am the corporate secretary for the firm Arceneaux Wilson & Cole. Joe Wilson is the president and Keestan Cole is the vice president. I’ve stepped back to be corporate secretary. The other two guys run the firm and I work, generally, on quality control issues.”

Arceneaux said his experience in civil engineering taught him the value of serving people.

“Civil engineers have a role in the daily workings of the city,” he said. “Before I opened my practice, I worked for a company that had a very big hand in the development of North Port Arthur around the Stonegate area. I was involved in the design of much of the facilities in North Port Arthur. It was an exciting time to be on the front end of growth in the community that I knew was coming. Often times, I had to be kept silent because of the clients and that sort of thing. I knew some good things were coming and I couldn’t always talk about them.”

One of Ron Arceneaux’s passions is music, as he is a guitar player. (Chris Moore/The News)

Now, Arceneaux cannot wait to tell locals about how the area is developing in his new role.

He sees parallels between the growth in the late 70s and 80s to the attempted rebirth of the downtown area.

“Our downtown is still vibrant and important to the residents of Port Arthur,” he said. “Downtown went through a transition that many areas across the country went through over the years. You had a very strong core of small businesses and services. As suburbs grew, commercial ventures made it easier for those suburbs to be served further out from the downtown.”

He said the rebirth of downtown is “key to our continued success.”

“Our economic corporation and Motiva have made all kinds of investments downtown,” he said. “There are other good industrial businesses that provide good services to the industrial complexes. We have a strong port that is vibrant and expanding and I am sure there will be spinoffs from there.”

Arceneaux said one of the biggest challenges the chamber faces this year is rebounding from a tough 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. He also tipped his cap to outgoing chairman Ron Fletcher.

“He had a different, and probably more difficult chairmanship with the chamber, but he did some excellent work with our executive board and our staff and our membership to help grow our membership even in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “As we move forward, our chamber has been working with the state to participate in a program that will be very beneficial to our small business owners in Port Arthur.”

Arceneaux said the program will allow small businesses to help with coronavirus-related costs to employees.

“Some of our small business can’t afford to pay healthcare to their staff, which could include benefits,” he said. “A small business could say, you can come back to work if you have a COVID test. Sometimes that is a big impediment to the person that hasn’t been working for two or three months. This is going to, in a partnership, be able to provide that relief for employees to get tested for free.”

Arceneaux said the chamber will go into the plan more in depth at the chamber banquet.

“I’m trying to maximize what I can get done,” he said. “Being a chair of the chamber board is certainly a highlight of my life. I will certainly always remember that. We’re going to try to make this a great comeback year from COVID for the betterment of all of our business members in Port Arthur.”

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