Las Vegas Sun

November 19, 2017

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Minority businesses want part in construction of high-speed rail

A coalition of minority business organizations, including the Black Business Council of Nevada, will meet in Victorville, Calif., next week, hoping to get a jump on construction jobs for the planned XpressWest high-speed rail project that would link Las Vegas with Victorville.

The High Speed Train Diversity Summit has been organized by Veterans Southwest Industries, the California Black Chamber of Commerce and Black Business Council of Nevada.

“We’re working to organize people and businesses to be prepared to actively participate in high-speed rail,” said Robert Gaines, president and CEO of Veterans Southwest Industries and chairman of the California Black Chamber of Commerce.

Gaines said he expects up to 400 people to attend the event Monday at the Hilton Garden Inn in Victorville.

Representatives of black chambers of commerce in the Antelope Valley, San Fernando Valley, Victor Valley and Los Angeles have been invited to attend, as has the National Association of Minority Contractors of Southern California.

Gaines said several state lawmakers from California and the governors of California and Nevada have been invited to attend.

Among the planned speakers are Robert Lang, director of Brookings Mountain West at UNLV, California Public Utilities Commissioner Timothy Simon and Roger Campos, president and CEO of the Minority Business Round Table.

The XpressWest project is a $7 billion dual-track high-speed train line between Victorville and Las Vegas with trains capable of traveling 150 mph. The company has completed its environmental reviews and is awaiting approval of a federal loan request through the Federal Railroad Administration.

The project got a boost earlier this year when the company announced it is collaborating with the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority to link Victorville with the planned California High-Speed Rail Authority line at Palmdale, Calif., and engineer a high-speed operation to downtown Los Angeles.

XpressWest officials say it is premature to consider job contracts on the project until the FRA acts on the loan.

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