Northeastern Nevada Regional Development Authority helps grow business while growing itself
In a few short months, the Northeastern Nevada Regional Development Authority (NNRDA) has grown from a coverage area of primarily Elko County to 41 percent of Nevada.
The next step is to double its staff of two to meet the challenge of promoting economic growth in its vast territory.
Pam Borda has been the executive director of the NNRDA for the past eight years, working with executive assistant, Kris Ashdown, and leaders of other organizations and businesses to promote business development.
March 1, Jan Morrison came on board as economic development officer.
“We stole her from Lander County and are going to turn around and assign her to Lander County,” Borda said in a phone interview with NNBW.
Lander County along with Eureka and White Pine counties, recently decided to join the NNRDA as a better alternative to running their own economic development department.
In addition, Humboldt County economic development coordinator is retiring in June.
“(The counties) felt, with the kind of resources we have, it made sense to join us,” Borda said.
Morrison’s background includes years in commercial real estate in the Las Vegas area. Her territory will include Lander and Humboldt counties.
In July, the NNRDA expects to hire another economic development person to cover Eureka and White Pine counties.
That’s a lot of territory and a lot of programs to encourage development in Nevada’s northeast region with an abundance of mine operations, ranching, farming, logistics and manufacturing.
The NNRDA works with companies from the giants of mining to the corner farm supply stores to encourage company relocations, expansions and entrepreneurship.
“All of the rural economic development organizations tend to get a lot more involved in a lot more things than larger economic development authorities,” Borda said.
The NNRDA also works with the communities to ensure they have all the right puzzle pieces in place for companies that may want to move into the area.
The northeast has vast potential for growth, but not much land that is shovel ready for companies interested in relocating.
The NNRDA’s services for companies relocating or expanding includes site or building selection, incentive applications, permit coordination, economic impact reports, feasibility studies, workforce, housing and networking with contractors, project managers, engineers and other support businesses.
Borda said it could take two to three years of negotiation from the initial inquiries from companies interested in moving to the area before the doors open.
That includes a lot of traffic among mining interests in the region and in Canada, which are sending delegates to Elko in April.
“Our companies are interested in expanding into Canada.”
With mining such a dominant industry in the region, working with mining companies and those businesses that supply them is a huge portion of the work NNRDA does in the region.
Elko county alone is the fourth largest gold producing area in the world, and one of the fastest growing regions in Nevada, according to the NNRDA website.
A year ago, the NNRDA hosted its first Mining Reverse Expo to help facilitate contacts between companies. Highly successful, the second expo is on tap for March 15.
Borda compared the reverse expo to “speed dating.” Mining operators sit at tables and people interested in supplying the mines with anything from vehicles to hotel rooms to engineers present their pitches.
The Mining Reverse Expo is inspired by a similar event that has been taking place at Lake Tahoe for several years. The Elko expo is scheduled six months away from the Tahoe conference.
“We’re every bit as popular,” Borda said, noting that the 2017 event had already sold out before the end of February.
“It’s our way of trying to get more companies to relocate here.”
As the NNRDA gathers more territory under its umbrella, it’s looking at how to better serve the economic development of its communities.
“I think as a region, one of the most important things we’re doing is new strategic planning for every one of our communities,” Borda said. “Strategic planning is critical.”
Rather than looking at the region as a whole, a strategic plan will be created for each community.
“It’s very specific to each community so we’re recruiting those businesses that will benefit the community as opposed to recruiting anything.”
A pilot plan has already been completed for Wells, which Borda said was “very very successful.
“We’re repeating that process for the rest of the communities.”
The NNRDA isn’t waiting for the completion of the strategic plans. Interest in the region is significant.
“Right now several companies we’re talking to are in various stages of inquiry,” she said.
“We’re working on a couple manufacturing companies that we’re courting; geothermal stuff. We have a lot in the works.”
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.