• 81°

Pure Renewables a no-go for PAEDC; city

One business the Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation was hoping to land has fell through.

The Port Arthur City Council rescinded a resolution for an economic incentive contract and loan agreement between the PAEDC and Pure Renewables, Port Arthur, LLC at their regular meeting on November 1.

The first mention that Pure Renewables wouldn’t be coming to Port Arthur was at the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce Leadership Breakfast on October 25. Floyd Batiste, executive director of the PAEDC, said the business “outgrew” their needs in Port Arthur and “won’t be coming.”

In the June 10, 2015 edition of The Port Arthur News, a manufacturing company that recycled textile waste to produce new products was coming to Port Arthur and with it, 500 new full-time jobs.

In a packed reception at Port Arthur’s Economic Development building in 2015, representatives from Ryze Renewables announced the newly formed company would be setting up shop in Port Arthur.

The company was to invest $200 million in two different businesses. The first would take scraps from the textile industry to make medical and personal care products, luxury garments, and product packaging. Textile waste left from production of the products would be recycled further in a second facility that manufactures floor tiles.

The project has been a year and a half in the making, Joy Nunn, managing partner and inventor of the patented process, said.

Because so much shipping is involved, the manufacturing facilities were to lease two existing buildings at the Port of Port Arthur. Those buildings would be retrofitted, and were expected to see the first shipment of equipment in January 2016.

As incentive to lure the company to Port Arthur, the EDC agreed to provide a $1.5 million incentive. Of that, $750,000 would be granted upfront to help pay for equipment and the retrofitting process. The remaining $750,000 would be based upon payroll and employment, Batiste, said.

The company was required to hire 260 Port Arthur residents . Additionally, over a three-year period should had met a payroll of $16 million for Port Arthur residents.

Because the company did not plan to bring in many of its own workers, they partnered with Lamar State College – Port Arthur, Lamar Institute of Technology, Lamar University and the Texas Workforce Commission to train its employees.

Jobs would range from maintenance to engineers, accounting personnel, and machinery operators, just to name a few. Average pay would be around $42,000.

In other council related business pertaining to the PAEDC, the city council approved a training agreement between the PAEDC for certified nurse’s aide training to Port Arthur residents at a cost not to exceed $20,000.

In a former News article, the board of directors of the PAEDC approved a workforce training agreement with Program of Health Excellence for Certified Nursing Aide.

The cost of the program is $1,000 per student over a one-year period. There will be 20 students enrolled. The class is 15 hours and the contract is for $20,000.

The Local Government Code allows EDCs to spend money on training that leads to gainful employment.

Krystle Villarreal-Muller, employment and training specialist for the PAEDC, said benchmarks and requirements must be met to receive payment.

Batiste added the PAEDC pays for all costs. The only cost to the students is for the state licenses.

Director Richard Wycoff said some kind of tracking methods need to be in place to rate the companies.

Batiste said they do not track individuals, but they do track performance.

Wycoff said it’s very easy to get money from the PAEDC and not perform.

Batiste said the company doesn’t get paid unless the PAEDC gets a copy of the student’s certificate.

Lastly, the council approved Tender Loving Care Center For Children as the program manager for new construction of single-family residential structures as part of the PAEDC’s affordable housing program.

The project area will be bounded by Atlanta Street on the west, Eighth Street on the north, Nashville Street on the east and Fifth Street on the south.

Voters also said yes to the proposition by a vote of 1,822, or 64.82 percent on the May 7 election.

The proposition is designed to bring people with jobs to the city’s downtown area by assisting with the cost of affordable homes.

For the next three years beginning on Oct. 1, the EDC will use the funding to pay down the amount between what a bank is willing to lend the potential homeowner and what the housing cost.

The EDC is proposing homes built in the targeted area have a minimum value of at least $130,000.

The proposition allows the EDC to spend $300,000 a year on an affordable housing project designed to put people with lower paying jobs in homes they otherwise might not be able to afford.

Those making application for the new homes would need to meet credit requirements and fall within income limits established by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development.

David Ball: 409-721-2427