The proposed Treasure Valley Reload Center could go up on this site north of Nyssa. (The Enterprise/file)

The prospects for new jobs and stronger market reach for Malheur County’s onion industry hit new head winds from Salem as the director of Oregon’s economic development agency found “deficiencies” in plans for Nyssa’s proposed rail shipping center.

Chris Harder of Business Oregon added his voice of caution to those urging the Oregon Transportation Commission to hold off releasing $26 million set aside for the Treasure Valley Reload Center. He did so in a Feb. 13 letter obtained by the Malheur Enterprise.

The commission is scheduled to consider Malheur County’s request to move ahead with the project at its Thursday, Feb. 21 meeting. Greg Smith, Malheur County economic development director, is expected to appear and address concerns that have emerged in the past month about the finances and viability of the Nyssa project.

In his letter, Harder said his agency reviewed the proposal for the Nyssa center.

DOCUMENT: Chris Harder's letter

“Business Oregon is unable to recommend final approval,” Harder said, and urged that the project “address the deficiencies” his staff found in its review before state money is released.

Harder echoed criticisms contained in other reviews that the Nyssa project doesn’t have a firm commitment from Union Pacific Railroad. The railroad would serve the reload center with special trains to move onions to markets back east.

He also said the Malheur County project hasn’t shown it has money in hand from other sources to start construction or that is has established the project would pay for itself.

Harder was particularly concerned that the Nyssa project wouldn’t succeed “without long-term public investment or subsidy.” He said that his agency’s review of Nyssa and two Willamette Valley rail projects concluded that the “financial success of these projects is not guaranteed.”

The Nyssa project is being advanced by a public corporation set up by county officials – the Malheur Economic Development Corp.

The company said in its proposal to the state last year that the Nyssa project would show a profit from day one.

Harder noted that the proposal indicated that the Nyssa shipping center would produce $2.1 million in economic output, $1.2 million in wages, and create 16 jobs. He said the Nyssa project and others offer “potential for significant economic impact.”

“A successful facility could provide both the local community and state considerable direct, indirect and induced economic benefits,” Harder wrote.

His review followed one by Matt Garrett, director of the Oregon Transportation Department. Garrett also advised the transportation commission that he recommended against releasing state funds for the Nyssa project until risks and concerns were addressed.

Officials with the Malheur Economic Development Corp. haven’t responded to written questions from the Enterprise about these developments.

This is a developing story and the Enterprise continues to gather information.

The prospects for new jobs and stronger market reach for Malheur County’s onion industry hit new head winds from Salem as the director of Oregon’s economic development agency found “deficiencies” in plans for Nyssa’s proposed rail shipping center.

Chris Harder of Business Oregon added his voice of caution to those urging the Oregon Transportation Commission to hold off releasing $26 million set aside for the Treasure Valley Reload Center. He did so in a Feb. 13 letter obtained by the Malheur Enterprise.

The commission is scheduled to consider Malheur County’s request to move ahead with the project at its Thursday, Feb. 21 meeting. Greg Smith, Malheur County economic development director, is expected to appear and address concerns that have emerged in the past month about the finances and viability of the Nyssa project.

In his letter, Harder said his agency reviewed the proposal for the Nyssa center.

“Business Oregon is unable to recommend final approval,” Harder said, and urged that the project “address the deficiencies” his staff found in its review before state money is released.

Harder echoed criticisms contained in other reviews that the Nyssa project doesn’t have a firm commitment from Union Pacific Railroad. The railroad would serve the reload center with special trains to move onions to markets back east.

He also said the Malheur County project hasn’t shown it has money in hand from other sources to start construction or that is has established the project would pay for itself.

Harder was particularly concerned that the Nyssa project wouldn’t succeed “without long-term public investment or subsidy.” He said that his agency’s review of Nyssa and two Willamette Valley rail projects concluded that the “financial success of these projects is not guaranteed.”

The Nyssa project is being advanced by a public corporation set up by county officials – the Malheur Economic Development Corp.

The company said in its proposal to the state last year that the Nyssa project would show a profit from day one.

Harder noted that the proposal indicated that the Nyssa shipping center would produce $2.1 million in economic output, $1.2 million in wages, and create 16 jobs. He said the Nyssa project and others offer “potential for significant economic impact.”

“A successful facility could provide both the local community and state considerable direct, indirect and induced economic benefits,” Harder wrote.

His review followed one by Matt Garrett, director of the Oregon Transportation Department. Garrett also advised the transportation commission that he recommended against releasing state funds for the Nyssa project until risks and concerns were addressed.

Officials with the Malheur Economic Development Corp. haven’t responded to written questions from the Enterprise about these developments.

This is a developing story and the Enterprise continues to gather information.