Geothermal recruitment gets easier | NevadaAppeal.com

Geothermal recruitment gets easier

John Seelmeyer
Northern Nevada Business Weekly

It’s getting easier for Tom Matter and Jason Geddes to push the rock up the hill as they woo geothermal companies to locate their offices in Reno.

And with some successes in hand, Geddes and Matter have high hopes that they’ll be able to widen their sights to begin talking seriously with the professionals and manufacturing companies that will follow in the wake of geothermal development companies.

Geddes, the environmental services administrator for the City of Reno, and Matter, a business development manager with the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, are taking a high profile this week during the annual meeting of the Geothermal Resources Council in San Diego.

About 1,000 representatives of geothermal companies and associated industries are expected to attend.

The City of Reno is one of the top-level sponsors of the event, joining the Fallon-based Churchill Economic Development Authority. Reno also is the sponsor of the council’s annual banquet – an event that will include a sales pitch from Craig Mataczynski, Gradient Resources’ chief executive, about the reasons that geothermal companies should locate in Reno.

Gradient is one of a dozen geothermal companies that have located headquarters or other significant corporate facilities in the Reno area.

In fact, five of them – Gradient, Nevada Geothermal Power, Terra-Gen, Oski Energy and Ram Power – are within a half mile of one another in South Meadows.

Another cluster of geothermal companies – Ormat Technologies, Magma Energy, Geothermal Development Associates – is located within walking distance of the NV Energy office in south Reno.

That cluster of companies is helping to build momentum for the recruitment efforts of the city and EDAWN.

“It’s getting easier as some of them have a footprint here,” says Geddes.

Now, he says, some of the recruiting efforts can be devoted to professional services companies – law firms, engineers and the like – that might want to be close to their clients in the geothermal industry. And the recruitment efforts also are extending to the manufacturers who provide steel, pipe, pumps and other hardware for geothermal power operations.

For manufacturers and professionals alike, the risks of opening an office to serve the geothermal industry in northern Nevada are less when a variety of potential clients are nearby. That reduces their reliance on one or two customers.

Matter notes, however, that nothing comes easy. He’s been talking with one supplier to the geothermal industry for a year about a possible Reno location.

From last year’s annual meeting of the Geothermal Resources Council, EDAWN generated about 30 leads, and three of them remain active. Matter said he’d view a similar record from this year’s session as a success.

In talks with suppliers, as well as geothermal companies themselves, economic development executives in northern Nevada emphasize both the nearby geothermal resources as well as the Reno area’s easy access to other geothermal hotbeds such as Southern California and Oregon.

Peter Wallish, the city’s economic development manager, said geothermal programs at University of Nevada, Reno and Truckee Meadows Community College also will help draw geothermal jobs to the region. “Our No. 1 is job creation,” Wallish said.

The industry convention in San Diego already created a little work for some people in Reno. Packages of Choco Rocks produced by Reno’s Kimmie Candy Co. will be left on the turned-down beds of conference participants, complete with a note reinforcing Reno’s convention message: “We’re Serious About Geothermal Energy.”

Next year’s conference of the Geothermal Resources Council will be at the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino in Reno.