Rural Nevada Development Corporation leverages $17.2 million in small business loans |

Rural Nevada Development Corporation leverages $17.2 million in small business loans

Kelly Clark

Special to the NNBV

Paul and Tiffany Picotte recently opened The Grid restaurant in Fallon after receiving a loan from the Rural Nevada Development Corporation to complete a renovation of the former Sandwinds.
Photo: Kelly Clark

ELY, Nev. — For more than 25 years, Rural Nevada business owners have benefited from a small but powerful alternative lender — the Rural Nevada Development Corporation (RNDC).

Based out of Ely, Nevada, the nonprofit development corporation maintains one rural office, and quietly offers a multitude of lending products; home repair and weatherization, down payment assistance and small business lending are all part of the portfolio.

USDA Rural Development Nevada (RD Nevada) is proud to partner with this economic dynamo. Since 1993, RD Nevada has lent the corporation $6.9 million in Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) and Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) money, which RNDC has lent and relent to 193 rural businesses.

From that initial investment, RNDC has leveraged $17.2 million in revolved loan value, including $4.4 million in match from private cash match and owner injection, more than doubling the original loan investment.

How RD Nevada helped

In the past, before RNDC, rural business needed capital, but banks were often unwilling to make small or medium-sized loans. In particular, loans weren’t available to emerging businesses.

Beginning in 1993, RD Nevada approved RNDC for its first IRP loan of $999,776. Over the next 24 years, each time the nonprofit corporation had lent out 75% of its capital, it reapplied for additional funds. Six million in IRP funds has supported 146 individual business loans.

Since RNDC had worked with the IRP program since 1993, the transition to micro lending was a natural fit, and in September 2010, USDA Rural Development selected RNDC to be among the first nonprofit development corporations in the nation to participate in the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP).

The original RMAP loan was for $462,500 — all told, $853,171,025 in loan funds have been issued to 47 business owners over the past nine years.  This is a program to provide microloans from $500 to $50,000 to eligible rural businesses.

“These funds are a crucial tool for economic development in rural communities,” said Mary Kerner, Chief Executive Officer of RNDC. “As an alternative lender, our role is to help get people into a conventional product so that they can grow their business and then apply for a conventional loan. That’s success to us.”

RD Nevada State Director Phil Cowee says RNDC’s efforts have made a big difference in rural Nevada. 

“During the downturn many lenders turned away, but RNDC has been there to lend money to the little businesses on main street – the diner, the laundry mat, the automotive repair shop—that are integral to rural life,” Cowee said. “We are glad to be there to help, and thankful that RNDC extends that help to small rural Nevada business.”

A look at local impacts

Below are a few of the small businesses that have benefited from the RNDC funding:

The Grid in Fallon holds grand opening Nov. 30

One business RNDC recently helped is The Grid in Fallon. After retiring from the Navy and teaching, respectively, Paul and Tiffany Picotte used an RNDC loan to purchase and renovate Sandwinds Restaurant and Sports Bar. On Saturday, Nov. 30, the Picottes held a grand opening, serving locally-sourced food and a variety of craft beers.

Ely Dentist uses RNDC funds to expand practice to Eureka

Shannon Sena is a dentist in Ely, in operation since 2013. He borrowed from RNDC’s Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) when he initially set up his practice and reapplied for funding to purchase a dental practice in Eureka. He visits that office once a week, providing services to the people of Eureka that would have been lost to them at the retirement of the previous dentist.

Elko pediatric office expands using RNDC funding

Slothower Pediatrics is a medical office in Elko owned and operated by Dr. Jonathan Slothower. The doctor requested RNDC funding to establish his office after traditional lenders turned him down due to his start-up status. RNDC funded the necessary tenant improvements and a few years later provided additional support for an office expansion.

Ely insurance agent grows with RNDC support

Tiffany Swetich is the State Farm Insurance agent located in Ely.  When she first opened her agency, she had renovated an older home to fit her needs as an office. As her business expanded, she needed more room. With RNDC funds, she was able to purchase and renovate an old, historical building that had fallen into disrepair.

Gardnerville chiropractor expands treatment options

Motion Medical Center has been the recipient of two different micro-loans from the RMAP program. Initially a start-up owned and operated by Chiropractor Chris Blaha, the focus was on treating the young, active, athletic population of the Minden/Gardnerville area. Blaha applied for additional funding a few years later to add another treatment room.

Kelly Clark is Public Affairs & Special Projects Coordinator for USDA Rural Development Nevada. Visit to learn more.