Slump or no slump, the economic engine is chugging forward in Hesperia thanks to a $2 million federal grant.


The U.S. Economic Development Administration funds revived the G Avenue Rail Lead project, which began in 2002. A groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday signified the start of a year of construction to lay a rail switch and track from Mojave Street north to Lemon Avenue.


"It's a great day of progress for our beautiful city," said Steve Lantsberger, deputy director of Hesperia's Economic Development Department. "We're very proud and pleased that we're moving forward."


According to Mayor Mike Leonard, the 210-acre project will bring around 900 jobs over the next several years.


Enhancing the rail opportunities within Hesperia's industrial area will help with local and business creation. When completed, the $8.1 million project will serve as a beacon for industrial companies looking to distribute their product across the country, Lantsberger said.


But the rail spur's impact will go beyond the Victor Valley and Southern California. It's an important piece of the global transport puzzle.


"The day you pull the switch you are going to connect with Australia, India and Malaysia," said Vann Cunningham, assistant vice president of economic development for BNSF Railway. "Half of the world will be connected right here.


Cunningham, who said it was only the second time the EDA has given funds recently to a BNSF project, said the G Avenue Rail Lead project shows vision. The project will help the area to dig out of the recession, he said.


"Your timing could not be better."