ELKO — Newmont Mining Corp. on Wednesday presented a $100,000 check to the Great Basin College Foundation as the first installment of a $300,000 pledge to a new endowment.
The $1.5 million endowment is for new programs that businesses and industries, such as the mining industry, might need in the future to train workers.
“Especially in these economic times they are looking at community colleges to train workers and get the economy started again,” GBC President Carl Diekhans said.
“This will allow us to jump start programs at very short notice,” he said.
The interest from the $1.5 million endowment will be available to hire instructors and set up programs, and Diekhans said the money essentially is “venture capital” for new programs the college develops.
The endowment “relieves the college of the burden of supporting new programs” so GBC can use state funding for the established programs while the new one gets off the ground, he said.
Newmont contributed its first installment after the GBC Foundation showed the company it could raise the remainder of the $1.5 million by a Dec. 31 deadline.
Barrick Gold of North America provided $150,00 earlier this year for the endowment.
“We’re all very aware of how generous Newmont and Barrick are to the community. We wanted to show them we could raise the rest of the money by the deadline of Dec. 31,” said John Rice, executive director of the GBC Foundation.
“We raised a million bucks in 12 months. It was important to show Newmont and Barrick how much support there was from the rest of the community,” he said.
Rice said the new endowment “fits in with their sustainability programs.”
Additional money to create the endowment came from a Paul and Gwen Leonard bequest, a $300,000 anonymous donation a few years ago and from smaller contributions from businesses and individuals, Rice said.
“The endowment is complete with the pledges,” Diekhans said.
Rice cited an example of a new program similar to what the endowment could start in the future. The Land Survey and Geomatics program was established in response to a state mandate that all licensed land surveyors in Nevada have a bachelor degree credential.
GBC was the only college in the state to respond to the need, Rice said.
The program, now enrolling students from across the state and from other parts of the nation, fulfilled a critical need in Nevada, according to Rice.
Diekhans said longtime GBC programs such as diesel mechanics got their start through contributions from the industry, and solar or geothermal programs might be examples of future needs.
He estimated the new endowment will earn roughly $75,000 a year with 5 percent interest, and Rice said the college’s investment program can bring in that much interest even at a time when interest rates are low.