‘The Great Cross’ organizers begin search for private capital
June 9, 2014
Mike Nowland knows when it's time to pay attention.
The California man, stymied in his first efforts to raise the $2 million he needs to get started on a billion-dollar project near Lovelock known as "The Great Cross," isn't about to give up.
Along with his wife, Laurie, Nowland in recent weeks has been sending hundreds of letters from their Simi Valley home to well-heeled investors — many of them in the Christian community — in a continued effort to raise startup capital.
And they're talking with individual investors and angel-investment groups as well.
It is, Nowlands acknowledges, a challenge for investors to wrap their minds around the sheer scope of The Great Cross.
The couple envisions a cross that would be 3,000 feet long, 1,845 feet wide and marked by an 18-story glass dome at its center.
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The cross would contain about 600,000 hollow vaults available to inter the remains of one or two people. The Nowlands have described the project as one of the largest Christian cemeteries in the world and have said it's designed to stand for at least 10,000 years.
Initially, the couple hoped to raise the money from Christian organizations. They also hoped to begin sales of vaults for cremated remains and mausoleum spaces to provide construction financing.
"We didn't raise anywhere near the amount that we needed," Nowland says.
Churches were wary of involvement with a project over which they would have little direct control, and the funeral industry didn't want to sell vaults or mausoleum spaces that weren't completed.
"People are overawed by it, but they need to see it started," Nowland says.
Which brings the Nowlands to Plan B: Direct solicitation of private investors who would take an equity stake in The Great Cross.
Mike Nowland says the budget to get the project started still stands at about $2 million.
"It's not a huge amount of money, but it's more than we have," he says.
The couple turned loose of the option they held on 640 acres for the project near Interstate 80 west of Lovelock, although they say the dry climate and remote location of northern Nevada remain a favored location for The Great Cross.
But in the meantime, they also are looking at possible sites in Texas, where they also have visited with investors.
They've drawn inspiration from Steve Thomas of Pampa, Texas, who patiently raised the money to erect a 190-foot cross near the town of Groom in west Texas. Thomas spent years developing that monument.
"It's just a matter of how many people we're going to have to write to before we find that investor," says Mike Nowland. "We have something absolutely unique, but most of those people want to talk about technology startups."
The couple was inspired by dreams that Mike Nowland experienced on three nights from 2006 to 2008. Each time, he saw an enormous monument in the shape of a cross created from gleaming glass blocks. A peaceful body in repose was inside each block.
After the Nowlands, strongly committed Christians, talked over the possible meaning of the dreams, they decided to put their live savings into the monument as a rallying point for Christians across the globe.
Say Mike Nowland, "When you get clear instruction, it's probably not good to ignore it."