Continuing coverage of Southern Colorado economic development

Monday’s announcement that an order of 46.9 miles worth of steel for revitalizing Amtrak’s Southwest Chief rail from Evraz Rocky Mountain Steel in Pueblo had government and business officials touting the $8 million infusion into Pueblo’s economy and the creation of jobs. But there are no hard numbers on either front.

County Commissioner Sal Pace, who led the announcement, told PULP that he couldn’t hang his hat on any numbers.

The $8 million purchase price for the 46.9 miles of line is a guestimate the county put together from the average price of steel, Pace said. A confidentiality agreement regarding the deal between Evraz and BNSF has prevented local of officials from knowing any official numbers.

It’s not clear how much of that will be infused back into the local economy, but hopefully the order will bring those laid off earlier this year back to work, Pace said.

Evraz laid off 200 workers in January.

“Getting this BNSF order is simply a testament to the quality of Pueblo Steel that EVRAZ produces. EVRAZ is the largest supplier of rail to the BNSF, who is laying the rail for Garden City.” – Paris Carmichael, community information manager for Pueblo County

“I will say it’s a heck of a lot better for the (local) economy than it (the order) being outsourced to China,” Pace said.

Jack Rink, CEO of the Pueblo Economic Development Corporation, said the jobs were welcomed in Pueblo because rail is a cluster PEDCO has identified to enhance in Pueblo’s economy, according to the Pueblo Chieftain.

Though, there is no confirmation the order will create any jobs, and some are saying it won’t create any.

“Just to be clear this was not a jobs announcement. This order did not add jobs. Period,” said Paris Carmichael, community information manager for Pueblo County. “Getting this BNSF order is simply a testament to the quality of Pueblo Steel that EVRAZ produces. EVRAZ is the largest supplier of rail to the BNSF, who is laying the rail for Garden City.”

The 11,000 tons of steel will replace old rail between Las Animas and Pierceville, Kan.

Last year, the Southwest Chief route, which runs from Chicago to Los Angeles, was in danger of disappearing on the lines spanning across parts of Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico if the rail wasn’t replaced, but a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovering grant for $12.5 million has made the upgrade.

PULP was not able to receive comment from Rink or an Evraz representative.