The answer to how to succeed in business without really trying is not as complex as you may think. Business owners should tune their ears in to what is happening in rural Nevada. They may be pleasantly surprised at all they will learn ranging from the mining boom in Elko to the interesting products that are made in Nevada. “Every rural community in Nevada is unique in character which makes for unique opportunities,” said Rick Gray, executive director of the Fallon Convention and Tourism Authority. Our state is really a driving force behind the economy and ironically, many of us may not have realized it.
Building Rural Industry
Everybody is talking about Fallon. “Fallon is in a position to move forward in a real positive way in the near future,” said Gray. The dairy industry is making a big dent for starters. “We have just broken ground on a powdered milk plant that is one of only two in the country,” said Gray. It is being built by the Dairy Farmers of America and will be a big boost to not only the dairy industry in Fallon but to the dairy industry in Nevada as a whole. “Fallon has the most dairy cows per capita in the state,” said Gray. Dairy farmers in the area are looking forward to more people joining them particularly after this new plant opens, which will cost around $80 million for the operation.
Fallon is also a unique location for green energy. “The first hybrids, solar and geothermal plants ever built were completed near Fallon by Enel Energy,” said Gray. They have added a hybrid, solar, geothermal component in the Stillwater area as well which speaks highly of the green energy opportunities in rural Nevada. “In Tonopah they are building some solar projects and in Ely they are doing a big wind power project which includes wind, solar and geothermal,” said Gray. These are all green energies that are emerging in our state.
Tourism in Fallon is on the rise. “Fallon has a very aggressive tourism marketing effort in place and we market a menu of year-round special events,” said Gray. One of the main markets is the nearby urban area of Reno as well as the Carson Valley and Lake Tahoe areas that are an hour and a half to two hours away. “When you are that close, it provides opportunity for Fallon to build events that have interest and attraction to those markets,” said Gray. Special events bring people together from all parts of Nevada.
People are inclined to come to the area because of the natural and historic attractions. “The Pony Express skirted Fallon and the overland telegraph came through the most treacherous stretch of the immigrant trail during the Western migration root which is just west of Fallon,” said Gray. These are just a few areas of historic importance that were relevant to the settling of the west. There are also beautiful museums that highlight these facets including the Churchill County Museum.
Fallon is also home to Naval Air Station which is home to Top Gun, the navy fighter weapon school made famous in the Tom Cruise movie. “Just about every pilot that has flown in missions across the world through all branches of the military train out here in Fallon so we get maybe thirty-five thousand military personnel coming through a year,” said Gray. This is a large payroll that helps balance the local economy and our area in terms of opportunities that may emerge through the military. “One that we are pursuing right now is the unmanned aircraft industry that the FAA and Congress are interested in developing in the United States,” said Gray.
Made in Nevada
Both locals and tourists have contributed to the boost in the rural Nevada economy. “There are prominent manufacturers in Fallon such as a steel joist company for houses and factory buildings,” said Gray. The future wealth of our state ultimately relies on small businesses because that is where tomorrow’s jobs will be generated. A few noteworthy small businesses in the state include American Pet Diner in Eureka which creates agricultural and pet products, Autie D’s Orchard Delights in Stagecoach which sells food items, Botcha-Caloop’s Custom Etching in Virginia City which provides gift items, Copper Kiln Pottery in Minden which manufactures products and Gourmet Rooster in Reno which also sells food items.
Made in Nevada is a non-profit organization that promotes the distribution of homegrown products from around the Silver State. The organization maintains strict guidelines for member companies to ensure that Nevada businesses are being benefited. For example, “fifty percent of the product must be made right here in the state,” said Lynette Castillo, director of Made in Nevada. The cooperative has members ranging from people who make soaps, lavender products, hair lotions, tortillas and glass artwork and etching. They are the oldest and largest locally-made product marketing cooperative in Nevada, originally established in 1985. Their mission is to protect, promote and grow industry by increasing awareness of Nevada-made products and they are one hundred percent funded and owned by cooperating companies. “We assist our members in free marketing so we do marketplaces throughout the year for them to participate, show and sell their products and we put out a trade magazine,” said Castillo.
Rural Nevada offers a variety of unique recreational venues. “The biggest new attraction is the California Interpretive Trail Center which just opened outside of Elko,” said Larry Friedman, deputy director of sales and industry partners with the Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs. They had a big grand opening in June. Another noteworthy happening was the restoration and reopening of the Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah. “This historic renovation was built in 1907 and has forty-seven rooms, two restaurants, a casino, two saloons and a couple of friendly ghosts,” said Friedman. It is now owned by Fred and Nancy Klein who are wine producers in California.
Other unique rural Nevada attractions include Rhyolite and the open air museum at the entrance to Death Valley. “Rhyolite is a fascinating ghost town. In the middle of it is the open air museum where there are sculptures by European sculptors that have chosen to produce pieces of art in the middle of the Nevada desert,” said Friedman. The Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park is another worthy mention. “Berlin is another ghost town and the Ichthyosaur is a fossil of the marine reptiles that swam in central Nevada 225 million years ago,” said Friedman.
Highway 50 has a distinct claim of its own. “We promote Highway 50 as the loneliest road in America, as people contact us and get a survival kit and a passport that they get stamped in the towns across the state,” said Friedman. There is a town about every hour.
Help Available for Rural Business
There are a lot of resources available to business owners in rural Nevada. “We do a lot of housing programs for low income persons rural-wide, down payment assistance program, the state’s weatherization assistance program and we provide free counseling services to businesses and prospective businesses in about seven counties of the state which is a function funded by RNDC,” said Ferrel Hansen, CEO of Nevada Rural Development Corporation (NRDC). In the business program we have what federal government calls a lender of last resort. “It is a program for loans up to 250,000 dollars for expanding and startup rural businesses. The business first has to go to a commercial lender and if they are turned down, that is the first step to becoming eligible for an application to our program,” said Hansen. A few hundred new startup and expanding rural businesses that the banks would not fund in turn have created thousands of new jobs in rural Nevada as a result of the program.
There is a micro-loan program which was initiated about a year and a half ago that is funded primarily through the USDA’s rural micro-entrepreneur program. It deals with micro-loans from $500 to $5,000 dollars. “As you might imagine, in today’s economic climate nationwide and certainly in the state of Nevada there are some serious hot pockets of economic depression that we have been able to fund startup businesses where the banks were unable to do so,” said Hansen of the lending programs.
As a developer, they have built large family and senior apartment projects for the purpose of providing quality rental assisted housing for low income people. They can cater to the smaller rural communities and their respective needs. “We just finished one in Wells and spent about $1.1 million primarily for the seniors and handicapped population in that community,” said Hansen.
Grants and New Beginnings
Funding is coming. “We received a collaboration grant for putting together the new Highway 95 regional development facility,” said Bob Shriver with the Highway 95 Regional Development Authority. Additionally there has been a revitalization of rural towns, new developments on the freeway as well as the opening of two mining operations in Pershing County. “We are going to use the grant to develop a web presence, marketing materials and highlight the attributes of the area which is economically linked because of their aerospace and defense industries workings, mining and agriculture,” said Shriver. All are part of the strategic plan. “We are going to try to develop not only the infrastructure to attract more, but to work with the workforce training folks and identify the needs of businesses,” said Shriver.
The Highway 95 Regional Development Authority covers the city of Fallon and Mineral and Pershing County. The organization is one of 10 regional development authorities that won contracts from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to help foster growth in the state.
It cannot go unsaid that there is a thriving mining industry in Winnemucca, Ely and Elko. “All of those places have mining-based economies that are still healthy and begging for additional housing,” said Hansen. Communities without a mining base have suffered through the depression. “We have a program in the Pahrump area in the southern portion of the state called the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and houses that two years ago were selling for $400,000 are being bought for less than $100,000, being rehabbed and sold to low income persons,” said Hansen. “In the mining communities there is a lot of import of persons from highly depressed economic areas surrounding Nevada that are moving because the mining industry has the highest rate of pay in Nevada for their skilled and unskilled workforce,” said Hansen. A lot of people are taking advantage of that industry and the jobs it is creating.
More Doors Opening
Businesses continue to boom in rural areas. “Golden Gate Petroleum has a new truck stop that will be opening off of Exit 106 and Interstate 80 [at Junction Nevada 398 towards Lovelock],” said Heidi Lusby-Angvick with Pershing County Economic Diversification Authority. There is a Big R, a farming and ranching store, moving into Lovelock as well. The retailer already has locations in Winnemucca and Fallon. “They bought an Ace Hardware store and they are converting it over into their store,” said Lusby-Angvick. Additionally, Lovelock’s Chamber of Commerce moved into the Train depot. “As a result, economic development is creating a business resource center in the old building that they vacated,” said Lusby-Angvick. A committee is being formed to work with Connect Nevada for the broadband initiative to assess, adopt and use broadband for Pershing County. “There are a lot of positive things happening right now; a lot of small business owners have opened up shops here or expanded recently,” said Lusby-Angvick.
People’s Choice Awards
The Nevada Commission on Tourism and Cultural Affairs recently held a contest called Discover Your Nevada where people voted for their favorite treasures of the state. “For Cowboy Country it was the Star Hotel Restaurant which is a Basque restaurant in Elko; in Indian Territory it was Pyramid Lake outside of Reno; in Nevada Silver Trails it was the Goldwell Open Air Museum; in Las Vegas territory it was the Valley of Fire State Park; in Reno Tahoe territory it was the Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park; and for Pony Express Territory it was the Nevada Northern Railway,” said Friedman.
Rural Nevada Has It All
There is nothing you cannot find in rural Nevada. “The people, food and natural beauty make us the most boundless state of the country, which most people do not realize,” said Friedman. There is a great sense of belonging. “The people are unique in the fact that they have an independent spirit and are hardworking,” said Hansen. Anything you are looking for can be found here. “We have great outdoor recreation; anything from bike riding on the bike trail outside of Winnemucca to hot air ballooning in the Carson Valley,” said Friedman. There are great special events year-round including the oldest rodeo in Winnemucca over Labor Day weekend. “Rural Nevada is strong because the people are strong and the future here looks bright,” said Hansen.