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The Mooresville Hydrail Initiative: and the little chamber that did

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by guest blogger Stan Thompson

Archimedes is quoted as saying, “Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the earth.”

Bell Telephone Laboratories gave mankind the transistor and—just as Thomas Jefferson foresaw— the free American pursuit of happiness (AKA the will to innovation) forged it into the Internet, daddy of all levers in the Information Age.

Around 2004, Bill Thunberg, later the Mayor of Mooresville, North Carolina, was the rising Chairman of the Mooresville South Iredell Chamber of Commerce. He gave me a place to stand—or rather, to sit. On assuming the Chamber chair, Bill let me chair the Transportation Infrastructure and Air Quality Committee.  Arguably, we’ve moved the earth a bit by introducing it to hydrail.

In 2003, Greater Charlotte (or Greater Mooresville, according to your perspective) was in the throes of an air quality crisis. Per the EPA, some six billion Fedbux could be withheld from government programs if the region didn’t get within AQ compliance!

What happened then, the Chamber just put online, so I won’t rehash it here.  But the result is that today about fifteen companies are making hydrail rolling stock—or have published that they soon will—and almost thirty countries are either already building hydrail trains, have published an interest in deploying them or have involvement somewhere in between.

Mooresville is famous for its NASCAR presence, not as the birthplace of hydrail. Going fast and turning left put us on the map. That, and Lake Norman—the largest lake in the Carolinas and, I hope, someday the birthplace of hydrogen fuel cell outboards and hydrogen fuel cell family trawlers that used to be diesel powered.

When we embarked on our hydrail odyssey back in 2003, the population of Mooresville NC was about 19,000. (Today we’re more than double that.)

Call me parochial—but if there’s chamber in any town that small at the turn of the millennium who’ve placed a comparably global footprint, I’d like to know about it!

Thanks, MSIC, for giving us an awesome place to stand!  And thank you, Kevin Kantola, for loaning us your cool lever.


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