GERLACH — Two tiny Northern Nevada towns located near the site of the annual Burning Man festival are facing an uncertain future when the largest regional employer closes early next year.
Citing a sluggish construction market, USG Corp. announced Thursday that it will halt its gypsum mine and wallboard manufacturing operations in the company-owned town of Empire on Jan. 31.
Officials say the move will put 92 people out of work in the town 100 miles north of Reno and could have a ripple effect on nearby Gerlach.
USG Corp. is allowing its employees and their families — about 300 people — to remain in company-owned housing until the school year ends in June, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.
But with most of the area’s population of 465 people tied to USG and few, if any, other immediate job options, officials are concerned about the risk of a wholesale exodus.
“We’ve got to evaluate the whole situation. There are so many working pieces to this,” Washoe County Commissioner Bonnie Webber told the Gazette-Journal.
The county school district operates elementary, middle and high schools in the area. Of a combined 74 students at the schools, all but about a dozen are family of USG employees, said Heath Morrison, school district superintendent.