A new, multi-million dollar project in Hawthorne has the potential to change the face of Mineral County’s economy.
Green Energy Nevada LLC plans to build a poultry operation to produce pasture-raised, organic eggs and meat in the rural western Nevada town best known for the vast U.S. Army ammunitions depot located there.
But the project could eventually include hotels, a truck stop and a power plant, all developed by Green Energy, as well as third-party agriculture businesses that pop up to serve Green Energy’s poultry operation.
“That area is fairly isolated so we need to support the infrastructure there, too,” said Izzie Razack, Green Energy project manager.
Green Energy says it will invest $20 million in the poultry operation, which it promises will create between 500 to 1,000 jobs in 2014.
The company is in the process of moving its headquarters, now located in Las Vegas, to Hawthorne and eventually, hopes to build a power plant there based on proprietary technology it has developed.
The company has purchased Hawthorne’s vacant Sixth Street school building and is preparing to start training its first class of poultry workers there starting in the next couple weeks.
The company, via the Mineral County Economic Development Authority, has received about 200 job applications.
“There was one article in the local newspaper and we were swamped with applications,” said Shelley Hartmann, executive director, of the economic development agency. “We received about 100 applications in 24 hours.”
The company has said it is committed to hiring unemployed or underemployed workers, with a special emphasis on hiring veterans and disabled veterans.
Training classes will be led by Green Energy Chief Operating Officer Arvind Nair, said Razack, and the company is looking for grants to pay workers during the training. Hartmann said money from Silver State Works, a state program that reimburses employers up to $2,000 per employee for training, is unavailable until the new fiscal year starts in July.
Razack says the company is working with local contractors in Hawthorne to build chicken coops to be ready for employees to continue training once a second, five-week class is completed, presumably sometime in June.
Green Energy has taken over several hundred acres of land from the county under an economic development agreement in which it posts a bond for the land’s appraised value and pays property taxes on it. If, within two years, the company meets agreed upon economic and hiring goals, the county signs the land’s deed over to Green Energy.
“The (Mineral County) commissioners wanted to give them more time, but Green Energy thinks there is enough demand for organic poultry that they can do it in two years,” said Hartmann.
Razack says the company has been working to develop an organic poultry plant for four years. It first considered a spot about 35 miles south of Las Vegas, but was deterred because only about 200 acres of land was available, not enough for the project. Under U.S. Department of Agriculture rules, chickens must be moved around to new grazing land every couple of days to earn the organic label, requiring at least a few hundred acres for the operation planned by Green Energy.
The Mineral County Economic Development Authority became aware of Green Energy when the Governor’s Office of Economic Development put them in touch.
Since then, said Hartmann, it’s been hectic. The economic agency has been fielding not only job applicants but calls from suppliers and other businesses interested in working with Green Energy. She said the county is also working on attracting a hatchery to supply the project.
Hartmann said more announcements of new businesses, related to the operation, will be coming soon.
“It’s a fast-moving project,” she said.