Nightly News | April 24, 2011
>>> a brand-new state of the art prison in new hampshire sits empty tonight. and it is not because there are no criminals to lock up behind bars. nbc's kelly o'donnell explains.
>> reporter: spring arrives late in new hampshire 's north country . but a man made delay is breaking hearts and wallets in the town of berlin .
>> this delay is critical to us. it is going to have an impact on businesses that are struggling to hold on.
>> reporter: they're waiting on this. a new federal prison , carved out of a mountaintop. a medium security facility that will add more than 300 new jobs. construction wrapped up months ago. but money needed to actually open was stripped when congress made cuts to this year's federal budget . new hampshire 's senator jeanne shaheen .
>> we have a $276 million prison that is brand-new, that is standing empty because congress isn't willing to put in about $28 million to get it started.
>> reporter: that means no money to transfer inmates here and hire prison staff.
>> i would like to have a meeting to regroup.
>> reporter: mike belanger heads the local unemployment office where they have been desperate to see the prison jobs filled.
>> with the delays, people are getting discouraged and they stop asking and they kind of wait to see when it is going to become a reality.
>> reporter: after paper mills and manufacturers moved out, berlin spent the last ten years trying to get a federal prison here. and claims it could bring almost $40 million to the local economy .
>> certainly counting on some employment and generating some spending in the town and in the county.
>> reporter: the northland dairy bar restaurant has been in the roy family for 50 years.
>> i just can't believe that they spent all that money to build a prison without having the funding to operate it once it is built.
>> reporter: and there is a price for not opening. it will cost taxpayers about $4 million this year to keep this facility maintained, secure and ready to go. and that's with no inmates here. while democrats and republicans say painful budget cuts are necessary, shaheen calls this cut shortsighted.
>> doesn't make sense for us to cut in areas that affect public safety , which is an issue here, with respect to starting up this new prison.
>> reporter: but funding will stay locked up until at least next year's budget. and berlin will have to wait. kelly o'donnell, nbc news, berlin, new hampshire .