Chamber president talks about being prepared for industrial growth boom

Published 12:20 am Wednesday, March 29, 2023

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Ida Schossow is excited about the great things coming to Orange County.

“Even before I came here, I worked with businesses — small businesses, large businesses, all businesses,” the president of the Greater Orange Chamber of Commerce said. “This job is a chance to help the business community.”

Retired from Chase bank, Schossow has been involved with the chamber for three decades, with 11 years working directly for it.

“When they join the chamber, we can promote and highlight what they do,” Schossow said. “If a business is struggling, we can help put them in contact with resources. Or if they’re thinking of starting a business, can refer them to avenues that can help them.”

Schossow’s enthusiasm and dedication to business helped earn her the title of 2023 Small Business Champion of the Year by the Lamar State College Port Arthur Small Business Development Center.

And she’ll have no shortage of work ahead of her.

Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce Business Coordinator Jessica Irvin speaks with Ida Schossow. (Stephen Hemelt/The Leader)

This month, an $8.5 billion joint venture between Chevron Phillips Chemical and Qatar Energy was announced. In addition, Public Utility Commission of Texas approved Entergy Texas’ proposal to build the 1,215-megawatt combined-cycle power plant near Bridge City.

“There are going to be so many businesses that come because of the big announcements,” Schossow said. “You are going to see businesses follow that compliment or service these industries. I think we will see a boom in everything. We already have some things in the pipeline.”

Schossow said chambers and businesses everywhere went through unprecedented situations during the pandemic, but they were prepared to help business owners with questions.

“It was a crazy time,” she said. “We’re part of the U.S. Chamber and the Texas Chamber, and the U.S. Chamber would send us information directly.”

Due to the ever-changing rules and regulations, Schossow said the Greater Orange Chamber of Commerce worked to filter information to businesses as soon as they received it. They had packets available for different industries, such as restaurants that were suddenly dealing with curb-side orders only.

“Just being able to help the businesses is what I would say is the most rewarding thing,” Schossow said.

Among the Chamber’s many annual activities is the annual Mardi Gras celebration, which has a large economic impact on Orange County and surrounding areas. They also host an honors student luncheon for the top 10 percent of seniors in all Orange County high schools, including Deweyville.

They give away thousands each year in scholarships among those selected as Student of the Month, they recognize businesses with an annual awards banquet, and they also host a golf tournament in which 10 percent of net proceeds are gifted to a non-profit.

“It’s just a way to honor different people — the citizens who have done outstanding work and volunteerism,” Schossow said.

Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River returns this year June 1-4.

Schossow said following the last one in 2021, an economic study from an independent firm showed that the tournament brought $3.2 million to the region.

— Written by Monique Batson