N.C. Firm Gets Federal Grant to Develop Secure Container

A Granite Falls company has drawn attention and funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security -- and U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry paid a visit to the plant Friday to offer his support of its efforts.

Mariner Container Corp. received a $100,000 Homeland Security grant in May to develop a high-end container developed by the company's president -- and, currently, its only paid employee -- Rick Lampe.

The container would be built from an extremely strong but light steel-and-polymer combination, and it also would come equipped with global positioning and radio identification equipment to make it possible to recover in case of a disaster.

Lampe, while trying to patent his container, is pursuing another Homeland Security grant of $750,000 that would, he said, allow him to hire 25 to 30 employees needed to build the containers on an assembly line.

McHenry, the first-term Republican congressman from Gaston County, said Mariner Container's efforts represent the kind of enterprise that will help Caldwell County in particular rebound from five years of economic struggle after the collapse of the furniture and textile industries. McHenry also asked Lampe how he might be able to help push for the grant award.

"The congressman, I think, is committed to creating gainful employment for the workers of this area," Lampe said afterward. "He wouldn't have come otherwise."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press