Train, truck routes top the list of Elko business draws |

Train, truck routes top the list of Elko business draws

U. Earl Dunn

Elko may be a five-hour drive east of the Truckee Meadows, but its new economic development director is discovering it pays to keep in touch with the key economic development players in the Reno/Carson City area.

Elaine Barkdull heads up the Elko County Economic Diversification Authority.

The entity was formed nearly a year ago to attract diversified businesses that are seeking a small-town flavor.

Since its inception the Elko County EDA developed a strong Web site that has been featured in two of the nation’s top online site selection publications.

(See “Elko County is considered a micropolis,” says Barkdull, a term used to describe that dark, green,middle ground nestled somewhere between big-city life and rural America.”But we are getting a lot of interest from companies who like what our area has to offer.We have land.We have water.We have rail.And we have a major interstate highway.” Barkdull says she appreciates the fact that people such as Chuck Alvey, who heads up the Economic Development Authority ofWestern Nevada, Stan Thomas, the top economic development figure at Sierra Pacific Resources, and Ron Weisinger of the Northern Nevada Development Authority, have extended help in the formation of the Elko County EDA.

“They have brought me into the fold, so to speak,” she says.”We exchange information and work together well as a group.After all,what benefits one community in Nevada benefits the entire state.”

Barkdull says her focus today is on developing 1,000 acres of land next to rail that would be zoned and developed as industrial.

“We have met with Union Pacific and Burlington Northern-Santa Fe and they are very interested in working with us.” Barkdull says the idea came to her as she listened to a presentation by industrial site selector Mark Sweeney earlier this year in Vail, Colo.

“He said not to overlook rail access because it could be your crown jewel, and we certainly have both rail and an interstate highway.

What we’re looking at is a regional transloading facility where trains could drop their cars.We could see the development of a major distribution center here in Elko County.

I’ve toured every industrial park in the state and I can see clearly how this can be done for the benefit of the people here in Elko County,” Barkdull says.

She says, however, the EDA is not going to be targeting businesses in California.

“Our target is going to be the Intermountain West and the Midwest,” she says.”We’re only 185 miles from Salt Lake City and we believe we can find businesses out there who would love to be in a place like Elko County.”