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Ron Fletcher looks back on hard-fought 2020 success for Chamber

The Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce saw the challenges put forth in 2020 and turned them to successes, just ask Ron Fletcher.

Fletcher, the immediate past chairperson of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce looked back over his year at the helm and saw the many triumphs. From having the largest banquet in recent history with almost 900 in attendance and one of the most attended State of Education luncheons where State Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, was speaker, to working with businesses in the time of COVID-19.

“We had to make adjustments, obviously, because of COVID and started supporting Small Business Forums so small businesses could get the most up-to-date information on government programs,” Fletcher said.

The Chamber was able to provide vital information on the Small Business Administrations Payroll Protection Program and identify lending institutions that grant those loans in the region.

“We also published all of the Small Business Administration’s approved lenders and got a lot of really positive feedback on that, as well,” he said.

In addition, the Chamber was able to help local businesses find masks so they cold continue working and staying in operation.

And a focus on social media had the Chamber go from zero to more than 1,900 followers in 18 months and an average outreach of more than 10,000 per month, he said.

But there’s more.

The Contractors Business Development Group continued to jump as the growth has reached out to the Golden Triangle, Baytown, Houston and Louisiana.

The group, which consists of members of the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce, allows contractors to network, exchange contact numbers and learn of new or existing projects. The group meets on the second Wednesday of every month.

Chamber president and CEO Pat Avery, who spent her career as an energy company executive and business consultant, was integral in a sit down conversation between industry and Sabine Neches Navigation District regarding tariffs to help with the project for the deepening and widening of the ship channel, Fletcher said.

In addition, the Chamber’s legislative committee got together and produced what Fletcher called one of the most comprehensive legislative agendas in recent memory.

Avery had nothing but praise for Fletcher, calling him an outstanding chairperson.

“There wasn’t a time we needed him that he wasn’t there for us,” Avery said. “He helped us hold on to a lot of small businesses during a time we had to be innovative and said we need to give our small businesses a chance to recover but we want them to remain members of our Chamber. Whatever it took, we let them pay in installments. We did not remove anyone from our membership that had not paid.”

Fletcher was part of a campaign to get the businesses back and it worked, she said.

“And the god thing about Ron is he will stay on the executive board and we get to work with him,” she added.

And as Fletcher steps aside, new chairperson Ron Arceneaux comes forward to lead.

“ (Arceneaux) and I have been working together in the Chamber for a number of years,” Fletcher said. “As Ron has always done, he takes things to that next level of improvement and I look forward to him doing a fantastic job. His business savvy and local relationship to leaders will continue to put the Chamber on the map in the region.”

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