Post Cards From Nevada: Elko
While the rest of Nevada and the nation were reeling from the worst economy since the Great Depression, Elko was booming. "People can't find places to live, mines are wanting to hire but they have nowhere to put anyone right now. Elko is in its own little bubble. I think we have been hit by the economic impact on our country, but not as much as most areas."
Indeed, Elko is literally overflowing with miners, ranchers, and tourists. Housing for miners is almost impossible to find, and as a result, mines aren't expanding as fast as they want.
More money could be pouring in, but mining hasn't always been this hot.
Elkoites know that and they are planning for the time that mining slows down again. "Elko is very fortunate to have is a wide variety of events and at the ECVA one of the things that we do is really go after and heavily promote those events outside the area and try to rely on those events to bring additional tourists to our community."
Those events run from the internationally known Cowboy Poetry Festival and Western Heritage Center in winter to a huge mining symposium and even a mini Hot August Nights style event in the summer.
But still with mining and construction it's tough sometimes to find places for even the tourists to stay. "We were fortunate this past year to have the Ruby Mountain pipeline project come through the community which was a big boost during the winter season and so Elko was very fortunate to benefit from room tax from that construction project. The convention center here in Elko actually every single weekend is booked. There's always something. We are so overbooked in some ways that were busting at the seams."
So now Elko is home to trendy wine bars, art galleries, pubs and coffee shops. Probably things this ranching community never thought - just a few years ago - it would see.
And through it all the people who live here mix their love of a small town with an explosion of growth that shows no signs of slowing down. "It's a nice town here. Everyone knows everyone. It's fun. All small. Just where I wanted to be so I came back. I mean my profession, changes are part of it. As an engineer if it doesn't change, it doesn't grow I don't work. So you have to have change you have to have growth."
Elko is also home to Great Basin College - a school that seems to be doing everything right when it comes to training students and then getting them jobs.
Why then are they the poster child for education cutbacks? That story Monday.