Economic development leaders discuss needs of rural areas |

Economic development leaders discuss needs of rural areas

Kirk Caraway

Economic development leaders from around the state met Thursday in Carson City for the Nevada Rural Development Roundtable, a region-wide effort to help rural communities.

The effort is led by

Don Albrecht, director

of the Western Rural Development Center, and encompasses 13 Western states. Albrecht is conducting roundtable meetings in each state to determine what rural areas need in the way of economic development.

“It will affect what programs we have and how we work with states on these issues,” Albrecht said. “When we are done, we

will build multi-state teams to get grants to address these issues.”

The top three issues identified by this group – leadership, infrastructure and resources – are common across all the states, according to Albrecht.

The group pointed out that in states like Nevada where there are huge expanses between towns, the need for infrastructure might be different. Services like high-speed Internet access are problems in many of the rural counties, which impedes attracting business.

Another issue was the role of the federal government that owns much of the land, and the fact these rural communities can be greatly affected by rules they have no control over.

“It was astounding to me the challenges just to get a wind project permitted,” said Bill Sims, who works with Nevada Small Business Development Center in Winnemucca. “I hadn’t thought about (that) weather radars have to be looked at, and the air traffic control system, the military flight control. It’s almost as difficult as siting a nuclear power plant.”

Once the priorities of all the states are collected, Albrecht said they will make up a master plan for the Western region that can help all of the areas in need.

“Hopefully it will help the states immediately by identifying these priorities,” Albrecht said. “And by bringing the states together, we can develop multi-state programs to tackle some of these issues. We can put together a regional meeting, all come together, share ideas and attack these problems on a larger scale.”