Humboldt County, Rural Economies Set For Growth

Jan 31, 2020

When it comes to economic development, much of the attention goes to big cities, but some rural areas in Nevada are also attracting big names.

That was one of the main points at the annual Winnemucca Futures, a networking and learning event to talk about the economy and business.

More than a hundred people gathered in a Winnemucca gymnasium to learn about the future of rural economies in Nevada.

"We have opportunities like other areas, but they are fueled by very high-paying jobs," said Jan Morrison, economic development officer with the Northeastern Nevada Regional Development Authority, one of the agencies behind the event.

Morrison said Winnemucca and other rural towns across Nevada have the capacity for more people and more business. They just need the companies to come.

A panel discussing renewable energy development and clean technology talks about future economic prospects in rural Nevada. Lisa Briggs (from left), Director of Government Affairs, Con Edison Development; Jeff Neri, Operations Manager, Loon, LLC; Alexi Zawadzki, CEO, Lithium Nevada; Harold Gudmundsen, board member of the Humboldt Development Authority.
Credit Noah Glick / KUNR

A lot of those jobs are in mining, a world Michael Brown comes from. He’s now the executive director of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

He said besides mining, there’s something else rural Nevadans can do to help economic projections.

"I had no idea until I came into government just how important the Census was, and particularly for rural Nevada, and how much of our federal dollars are tied to the Census outreach," he said.

The region has attracted some big name companies. Lithium Nevada is investing hundreds of millions of dollars into its Thacker Pass lithium extraction project. And Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has also set up its Project Loon in Humboldt County, an initiative that is working to provide Internet connectivity to remote areas using large weather balloons.

Officials said that like urban areas in Nevada, rural towns are also struggling with affordable housing and healthcare.