The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
Ken Broussard holds the rights to 22 U.S. patents. And the federal government has taken an interest in his latest invention.
The Department of Homeland Security and Department of Health and Human Services both secured contracts with Broussard’s company, Climate Controlled Containers Inc., to purchase his one-of-a-kind invention: a self-sustained, refrigerated shipping container that can travel by truck, rail, sea and air.
What will the government store in what Broussard has dubbed “The Cold Box”?
Anthrax vaccines, he said.
Broussard has been working on this shipping container that operates on “high tech batteries” and can maintain its temperature within one degree for more than 12 years now. And his hard work has finally come to fruition in his hometown.
With the help of the Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation, Climate Controlled Containers will train and employ Port Arthur residents to perform the high-skilled, technical jobs that the company requires. There are about 20 different positions for which training would be offered, Broussard said.
Overall, Climate Controlled Containers planned to hire 100 new employees, each of whom would be screened carefully by Workforce Solutions Southeast Texas, Broussard said. Out of that 100 workers, 75 would be from Port Arthur as part of the EDC’s agreement with the company.
Per the agreement, approved by the City of Port Arthur and the EDC, the EDC would reimburse the company 50 percent of the cost to train new employees up to $250,000, said Floyd Batiste, CEO of the EDC. The contract is for a five-year period.
The annual average salary of the new employees would be $32,500, according to documents obtained by an open records request.
Some of the skills required would be robotics operation, assembly, robotics welding and inside sales, Broussard said. It would take about nine weeks to train each employee for this semiclassified job. Employees would sign nondisclosure agreements due to the sensitive nature of the company’s shipping business with clients like the federal government.
The agreement also states that the EDC would provide the company with $400,000 to purchase manufacturing equipment in addition to the employee training reimbursement, according to documents obtained via open records request.
But that is not all of the assistance Climate Controlled Containers received. The U.S. Economic Development Administration awarded the city with a $1 million grant in March to help rehabilitate the former Texas National Guard Armory on 57th Street, where the containers will be made. The project was expected to create 100 jobs and generate $10 million in private investments for Southeast Texas.
John Hall, consultant for the city, secured the grant from the EDA.
“It’s a win-win for the City of Port Arthur,” Batiste said.
In an economy dominated by the oil and gas industry, the manufacturing of “The Cold Box” would present Port Arthur with an opportunity to diversify the area economy, Batiste said. The skills employees would learn are valuable, transferable skills, and the product has the potential to be used in every corner of the world.
“It was amazing why it took so long to make this happen,” Batiste said about “The Cold Box.”
The shipping container truly is the first one of its kind, Broussard said. The self-contained, refrigerated container eliminates the need for refrigerated diesel trucks, which leads to greener transportation. Broussard has been working with the Federal Aviation Administration for about five years to ensure that the container can travel safely by air. And the container itself is reusable and recyclable.
But for Broussard, who never went to college, “The Cold Box” was just the latest development in a long line of developments.
“It’s just what I do,” he said.