The small Nevada towns near the 'Burning Man' festival site are effectively jobless and broke after USG Corp., which owns a gypsum mine and produces wallboard, announced the closure of its local operations. What will happen to the drug festival?

USG Corp. owns the town of Empire, 100 miles north of Reno, Nevada, and employs nearly everyone in the town of Gerlach, which is near the Burning Man site. The company informed residents that they could stay in company-owned housing until the school year ends in June, according to a report in the Reno Gazette-Journal. Economist Elliott Parker told the paper, "If the idling isn't temporary and (USG) doesn't come back in a year or two, I'd have a hard time imagining Burning Man could continue there." Others disagree. The executive director of Friends of Black Rock/High Rock, Matthew Ebert, said Burning Man is primarily run from Reno, and "The event relies less on the infrastructure of Gerlach than perhaps what people think."

Nevada's 14.2 percent unemployment rate is the highest in the country. But maybe there's a solution to Gerlach's woes — Perhaps the people who run Burning Man, who make a shitload of money off the annual festival, could help out and employ some of the town's 465 people?

[Images via AP]