moons ago I was the project manager for a downtown revitalization group
in Laramie Wyoming. At the same time, working in a parallel job was
an individual whose job was economic development. We worked together
for a year and he had the harder job. I watched him trying to land economic
development projects; it was the most competitive field I ever observed.
Cities, counties, states, groups of states, and countries were all competing
madly for economic development projects.
reason for bringing up economic development is because it is knocking
at Ely's door. We have two economic development projects, the possible
reopening of the mine and keeping the Railroad Valley oil refinery active.
Both of these projects need rail access. The community has the chance
of providing this access if they can purchase the railroad track from
Los Angles Water and Power.
Bill 180 is a grant to the community to purchase the Nevada Northern
Railroad tracks from Los Angles Water and Power. Why bother purchasing
the track? Two words - economic development.
tracks are the economic future of White Pine County and the City of
Ely. I grant you they don't look like much now but they are
tied directly to our economic health. The railroad was built to move
the copper ore from the mines outside Ruth. A hundred years ago the
most economic method of moving ore was a railroad. Today that still
holds true. The mines still have ore; the upward movement of copper
prices will hit the threshold to where it is profitable to reopen the
mine. This threshold is at a lower point with rail transportation than
without. That was true a hundred years ago and it is true today.
you factor out the mine, the community still needs the railroad for
its economic health. If the railroad became community property tomorrow,
we have a customer, the refinery in Railroad Valley. The refinery needs
oil. The plan is to move unrefined oil to White Pine County via rail.
At a transload facility, the oil would be transferred to trucks, hauled
to the refinery, refined, hauled back to the railroad, reloaded on to
tank cars and exported to where it is needed.
economic model of this oil project generates enough revenue to keep
the railroad an economic viable operation. This project will maintain
and add jobs at the refinery, create jobs in Ely on the railroad, and
keep the economic lifeline of the community intact.
is urgent that the community purchases the railroad now.
- The current
status of the railroad allows the track to be brought into service
with a small investment. But as time goes on the track will continue
deteriorate and the cost of putting it back into operation will
- The opportunity
with the refinery is right now. The economics work now.
- We have a grant
right now that will assist in funding of the purchase of the rail
line. The grant is due to expire this year.
- A second grant
has been applied for to assist in the purchase of the railroad
We have this
chance right now to insure our future economic health. The bill pending
in the legislature will help assure that this entire package comes together
and the railroad is saved. But for this to happen, the community must
pull together. The railroad bills will have a tough uphill fight due
to the tough economic times in the state right now. But the
failure of the railroad bills to pass will have a direct negative impact
on the economic future of White Pine County. White Pine's
economy at a glance after mining industry layoffs and closures:
- 23% job
loss. Labor market relocated taking ~1,000 families (FY97 - FY02)
Loss - 12% (FY97 - FY02)
- Student Population
Loss - 23% (FY97 - FY02)
in Assessed Valuation - 40% (FY97 - FY02)
in Taxable Sales - 40% (FY97 - FY02; 49% from FY96)
funding to maintain and improve facilities and infrastructure
Pine needs to partner with the State and Federal governments to bring
about economic change. This can happen with the passage of the railroad