The stalled economy offered Boise, Idaho, one silver lining: $915,349 in lease payments from Union Pacific for storing its idle cars on the city's idle railroad track, the Idaho Statesman reports.
City staff is recommending
the city use the windfall to upgrade the track itself, explore creating a
"foreign trade zone" around the airport to boost commerce and
jumpstart a business incubator for local alternative-energy start-up companies.
The idea came from a
brainstorming session on what to do with the 18.2 miles of city-owned tracks.
It was one of the first things John Brunelle did when he joined Mayor Dave
Bieter’s economic development team in 2008 – a time when rail use was
plummeting along with the economy.
He asked Union Pacific if
the company needed to store rail cars – and it turned out the economy had
sidelined many of its rail cars and the company didn’t have a place to put
Though the city is facing
an almost $4 million shortfall, city staffers suggest this lease money, which
is put into the mayor’s economic development fund, be spent to help pull the
city out of the recession.