By Ken [email protected] U.S. Chamber of Commerce has awarded the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce with 5-Star Accreditation, honoring it as one of the top 1 percent chambers nationwide. “The result of our hard work is evidenced by this impressive rating. But in truth, we should all be extraordinarily proud of this milestone achievement. It was a true team effort,” he said.Chamber Chairman Jeff Hayes said the Greater Port Arthur Chamber’s accreditation rise has been meteoric. Local chambers are rated accredited, 3-Star, 4-Star or 5-Star. An accrediting board of the national chamber makes final determination. The local chamber earned 4-star status just last year.The process to become a 5-star chamber has been continuing for more than two years, with extensive organizational work. Hayes credited former chairwomen Barbara Phillips and Marian Ruiz for organizing and encouraging the successful effort.“We reviewed polices and procedures that would help use become a better chamber,” Phillips said Friday. “Committees worked diligently for a couple of years.” Chamber President Bill McCoy made the announcement in an issued statement late Friday.“This program makes you self-evaluate every aspect of the chamber. In the past year this effort has led to the creation of the Hispanic Business Council, the Contractors Business Development Group as well as a membership committee that is growing the chamber through new sales and retention,” McCoy said. “The process has taught our staff and volunteers how to research, plan and execute an aggressive and valuable chamber program.”McCoy said chamber staff, board members and volunteers spent “countless hours” completing the accreditation process, demonstrating competency in nine core areas ranging from finance to facilities. Most important, she suggested, was not only the review of policies and procedures and production of documents but the actual achievements of forming groups that made effective changes to serve more Greater Port Arthur people, such as the Hispanic Council and Business Development Council.“Both came out of this process,” she said.“We hope we can continue to get such recognition and do some great things for the local economy,” Hayes said.McCoy, Hayes and Phillips all praised chamber staff members for effective work.