The ASLRRA Business Development Award Competition recognizes the Class II and III railroads that have designed and enacted the most innovative and successful business-building initiatives in the small railroad industry. Criteria for the ASLRRA Business Development Award can be found here. Please contact Amy Krouse with any questions.

Congratulations to our 2021 Business Development Award Winners!

  IHR’s wind blade facility built for GE includes 10,000 feet of track.  

Iron Horse Resources Meets Big Cargo Demands with New Mexico Short Line
  Ironhorse Resources’ (IHR) Santa Teresa Southern Railroad (STS) in New Mexico has steadily built up its relationship with customers shipping windmill blades for wind farms, a feat that has required creative thinking and substantial infrastructure investments. In March 2020, STS signed a long-term agreement with GE Renewables and immediately began building a dedicated train-loading facility for GE. STS finished the facility on Oct. 1, having built 10,000 feet of track, developed a 10-acre staging and loading area, and constructed a 4,000-foot roadway connected to a major county road. As a result, GE reduced its train-loading time from three days to one and expects to ship a significant volume of wind-turbine blades with STS in 2021.

In addition to its windmill blade business, IHR has increased shipments for STS through development of the Santa Teresa Gateway Rail Park (STGRP), a long-term project begun in 2008 with IHR as the operator of the short line serving the park. By 2018, IHR had purchased the rail assets, and 1,243 acres of the park, and construction on 100 acres of new rail-served industrial lots finished on time in May 2020 despite the pandemic. IHR employees sold parcels to two clients in December 2020, and, once their facilities are complete in the third quarter of 2021, they will be another source of business for STS.
      Lake State Railway Corporation’s 44-carload facility at former Buick loading site in Flint, Mich., brought
approximately 20 new jobs to the area, and reduced traffic congestion.

Lake State Railway Company Shifts Focus to Transload Business to Grow During Pandemic

Lake State Railway Company (LSRC) overcame the potential shutdown of several customer facilities in 2020 and pivoted attention to its transload business, bringing in nine new customers and growing carload volume in the last two quarters of 2020. LSRC also developed seven transload locations along its Michigan lines, adding two in Alpena, expanding transload facilities in Bay City and Gaylor, adding a second track to a facility in Gaylord, building of a 35-car capacity facility in Greenbush and another 44-car capacity in Flint, and doubling LSRC’s transload capacity in Saginaw.

But LSRC’s projects did not only boost the railroad’s bottom line. LSRC restored an auto-loading facility in Flint, Mich., constructing a 44-car spot facility at a former Buick loading site and rehabilitating two miles of an out-of-service former mainline, eliminating the need to move finished vehicles on the highway. The project brought approximately 20 new jobs to the area, not including jobs added by LSRC’s subcontractors, and invested several million dollars in the area surrounding the facility, helping to build back an area of town which had been vacated for decades.

Almost all LSRC’s new traffic involved a modal shift from truck to rail. With these companies projected to add 17,500 carloads annually to LSRC’s operations, that means thousands upon thousands of trucks taken off local roads, leading to less congestion and improved environmental impact on their local communities.


    Nine Dragon’s paper mill in Rumford Maine served by Pan Am was a critical part of re-imagined supply chain.  

Pan Am Railways Grows Business By Reimagining Supply Chain for Nine Dragons Export

When China tightened purity standards for imported scrap cardboard, its largest paper company, Nine Dragons, had to reimagine its U.S. business. Nine Dragons adjusted its operations, but it was Pan Am Railways that helped Nine Dragons bring rail shipments to its pulp and paper mills in the Northeast, ensuring that the company’s business would be handled by train instead of trucks and breathing some new life into the region’s struggling paper industry.

The ultimate goal was to achieve the balanced, two-way boxcar move, bringing in scrap paper and virgin fiber for processing at U.S. plants and then moving processed paper pulp for export to China. To do this, Pan Am worked with Nine Dragons to identify a cross dock opportunity near the Massachusetts Port Authority’s Conley Terminal, which lacked direct rail access, for outbound shipments of wood pulp. The new facility needed building and track repairs, and a new company to manage warehouse operations. Pan Am took care of both these tasks. Pan Am also helped Nine Dragons expand a recently acquired mill, selling the company a yard and related land on which it built new storage space for scrap paper. With both ends of the balanced move now complete, Pan Am expects to handle 1500 carloads this year, with an eye toward expanding service to a warehouse near the Port of New York and New Jersey to match increased production by Nine Dragons.



    RJ Corman’s Carolina Lines required substantial rehabilitation investment – before (L) and after (R) photos of track improvements.  

R. J. Corman Revives Defunct Short Line and Restores Customer and Community Trust in Rail

In reopening the former Carolina Southern Railroad, now the R. J. Corman Carolina Lines (RJCS), R. J. Corman had to take on a multi-faceted problem – restoring infrastructure, rebuilding relationships with customers and reconnecting with the community. In roughly five years, RJCS has grown its annual carload from zero to 5,157. To do this, R. J. Corman invested $47.7 million in rail upgrades, repairing an overgrown right-of-way, rotten ties and seven bridges deemed by the FRA to have “critical defects.”

R. J. Corman also developed rail-served facilities and industrial parks to attract new businesses and better serve its customers, and to entice new customers to rail-served locations. This includes restoring one rail park in North Carolina, and connecting another to RJCS. The railroad has brought 13 customers online and converted 15,000 truckloads to rail. R. J. Corman also worked to help the local community refamiliarize itself with rail safety, using local media to notify communities in North and South Carolina about resuming operations and reminding drivers and pedestrians about rail safety through pamphlets, town hall meetings and other presentations.

Previous Award Winners

Please click here to view a list of previous ASLRRA Business Development Award Winners.