Nebraska Northwestern Railroad
Smart investing and recognizing the benefits of partnerships have yielded new opportunities for expansion for Nebraska Northwestern (NNW) Railroad in Chadron. NNW is a short line railroad in the northwestern panhandle with interchange points with the BNSF and the Canadian Pacific railroads. NNW has a yard capacity of 600 cars and the capability to expand to 1,000. The NNW shareholders purchased the property in 2010 with the hope of revitalizing the Chadron facility and creating jobs.
In 2011, the City of Chadron received a $6.2 million TIGER II grant in partnership with NNW to rehabilitate portions of the short line and attract railroad-related business to the area.
"They put in the latest heavy-duty track to support the modern trains and loads, added rail siding to store cars along the route and expanded the rail yard so it could hold more cars for storage," says Timothy Donahue, Ph.D., director of the Nebraska Business Development Center’s Chadron office. "They upgraded the equipment in the round house and are now able to work on modern large locomotives and other track equipment."
In 2012, Transportation Services, Inc. (TSI) of Calera, Ala. announced the opening of a new railcar repair facility in Chadron along the NNW lines. The company expects to hire 12 employees initially at the Chadron location.
"Transportation Services was one of five companies that looked at a relationship with NNW," Donahue says. "They lease space in the Chadron Yard and perform mechanical repair work on cars coming into the yard. It is perfect synergy: TSI does car repair and NNW stores cars for various railroads."
Donahue has an ongoing working relationship with NNW. "I was asked to assist the NNW, along with the Nebraska Northwest Development Corp. (NNDC), as they perused various business relationships with companies like TSI," he says. "I was involved with meeting the clients as part of the NNW team, explaining services the NBDC had that could provide assistance to any company that would align with NNW railroad. We worked side by side with NNW and NNDC to answer questions about local resources, candidate pools and training."
NNW is considering an expansion of its line to the north, potentially adding more business to the Chadron yard, Donahue says.
"NNW railroad and TSI have added about 20 good paying jobs to the community of Chadron, and that will grow as the businesses increase their visibility and add to their scope of work."
These new jobs fuel other growth locally, Donahue says. "In a study I did years ago, I found that for every high-paying job created by such companies as NNW, 1.08 additional jobs were created in retail and service sectors in a community."Partnerships such as that forged between NNW and TSI, Donahue says, "are force multipliers for the community of Chadron and the region."