The Lincoln County Regional Development Authority (LCRDA) met April 19. The meeting was called to order by chairman David Hurd at 4:35 p.m. Regen Gubler and Dr. Don Deever were absent.
After the minutes for Jan. 11 were approved, Jeff Fontaine handed out a revised financial report, which added $5,000 in expenditures to help the Lincoln County Authority of Tourism maintain its website during the COVID pandemic and increased the trail map expenditures $1,000 for Hired Gun Graphix to print the trail posters.
Year-to-date expenditures for Fontaine’s professional services were $15,787.08, which included an invoice from Nevada Authority Management LLC for $6,405.83. The financial report included invoices from Nevada Central Media LLC for $1,200 for annual website maintenance and $2,295.00 for the trails mapping project, plus a $76 reimbursement to Chairman Hurd for LCRDA’s P.O. Box annual renewal. Fontaine said the $2,295 paid to Nevada Central Media LLC would be reimbursed by Nevada State Parks under LCRDA’s Recreational Trails Program grant.
A motion was approved unanimously to approve the report and invoices.
Next, Fontaine said Lincoln County is requiring the LCRDA to have liability coverage for its board members and himself. He contacted the Nevada Public Agency Insurance Pool (NPAIP) and they put him in touch with Dolan and Edwards Insurance in Caliente, who provided him with a quote of $1,015.32 annually for general liability insurance and $313.95 for workman’s compensation coverage. Fontaine introduced Cory Wadsworth with Dolan and Edwards Insurance. Wadsworth provided background on NPAIP, explaining it was established many years ago to provide insurance coverage for smaller public entities in Nevada. It covers Lincoln County, the City of Caliente, the school district and several other small districts. He also provided an overview of the coverage, noting that even though LCRDA does not provide direct services, they could be named in a lawsuit. There was discussion about the type of coverage needed. Wadsworth said the premium would be less than other larger entities and there is no deductible for claims. He also said workers’ comp would help any board member who might get injured during service on the board, such as driving to and from meetings.
A motion was passed to approve acquiring general liability coverage and workers’ comp from Dolan and Edwards Insurance.
Fontaine said the proposed 2021-2022 LCRDA budget was not much different from the current year budget. He said he was anticipating a $4,950 reduction in grant funding from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development based on the current year reduction. Fontaine noted the reimbursements for the trail kiosks and maps will be closed out next year. A motion was passed approving the 2021-2022 budget.
Fontaine then provided an overview of efforts to develop a U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat Processing Facility at the Meadow Valley Industrial Park and introduced Jim Bourne of Battle Born Butcher Block LLC. Bourne discussed his plans to install three 4,990 square foot steel buildings on concrete slabs over the next 18 months beginning July 1. Chairman Hurd noted the increase in cost of building materials, and Bourne said they were trying to lock in building materials, especially steel. Bourne said they would operate five days a week and discussed his workforce needs and employee salaries, as well as his intent to train workers and construct workforce housing. Councilman George Rowe noted Bourne would be presenting his proposal to the Caliente Planning Commission on Wednesday and would be on the city council meeting agenda Thursday to request his business license. Fontaine said there has been interest in developing a USDA meat processing facility at the Alamo Industrial Park.
JoJo Myers Campos of the Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation and Broadband Technology discussed the planning process needed to identify gaps in services and funding opportunities for expanding broadband in Lincoln County to serve schools, libraries, government offices, health care and economic development. She also described various federal and state funding opportunities and said they were able to provide fiber to C.O. Bastian High School through E-rate.
Myers Campos mentioned libraries in Alamo, Caliente and Panaca were also upgraded with fiber and that there would be funding available to cover 90 percent of the cost of providing fiber to the Pioche library. Myers Campos said she had spoken with John Christian with Lincoln County Telephone about opportunities to fund broadband upgrades and suggested scheduling a meeting soon with local stakeholders to develop a broadband plan for the county.
Chairman Hurd introduced the item for approval and agreed to combine it with possible approval for a contract with Nevada Central Media LLC to prepare informational materials for remote workers considering relocating to Lincoln County.
Fontaine said he recommended the LCRDA website be updated to have a more modern look and to reflect current issues and conditions related to economic development in Lincoln County. He said he discussed the upgrade with Ben Rowley of Nevada Central Media LLC, who prepared the proposal that was in the board information packet. Emilia Cargill asked whether, as part of the website redesign, a digital “relocation guide” should be included. Fontaine said the relocation guide would be developed under a separate contract with Nevada Central Media LLC. He said the relocation guide was intended to be available to people visiting Lincoln County who might be considering remote work. Cargill noted that most people interested in moving to Lincoln County would likely get information from social media.
A motion was approved for a contract with Nevada Central Media LLC to update the LCRDA’s website without a digital relocation guide. The board tabled that item.
Fontaine referred to the 2017 Lincoln County Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy in the board packets and said it was his understanding that the CEDS needed to be updated every five years to remain eligible for certain grants from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration. Chairman Hurd acknowledged data in the 2017 CEDS was no longer current and said he helped on the last CEDS update. He asked if the update would need to be similarly extensive. Fontaine said a CEDS update is a rather significant effort and that the Nevada Economic Assessment Project Socioeconomic Baseline Report prepared for Lincoln County in June 2019 contained much of the data that would need to be updated. Fontaine said the board should consider whether the types of target industries that are in the current CEDS are still the ones that the city and county would like to have. He added that the purpose of the agenda item was to start discussion and said he would gather more information and bring the item back to the board.
Fontaine updated the board on various grants and projects in the county, including the status of the trail kiosks that were recently installed by the county road department, trail maps and posters and a Community Development Block Grant for $513,000 recently awarded to the city for Phase III of the Depot restoration. He also discussed future funding opportunities for roads through the Federal Lands Access Program and a state infrastructure bank that is being considered by the legislature.
Eric Bernal said Lincoln County Power has been working with the Silver State Energy Association on a transmission project that would benefit Lincoln County and asked Fontaine to participate in a follow-up discussion with the Lincoln County Power District.
Commissioner Varlin Higbee said he was aware of a state senator from Utah who had purchased mines in Lincoln County. Fontaine said he and Lincoln County Authority of Tourism (LCAT) president Marcia Hurd recently spoke to Nick Holt, the manager of the Cedar City Airport, about tourism opportunities in Lincoln County. Fontaine said he was invited to participate in a meeting hosted by the Northeastern Nevada Regional Development Authority to discuss building a natural gas pipeline in eastern Nevada, starting in Wells. Councilman Rowe said the Caliente City Council would be meeting on Thursday to consider appointing Lynn Jackson as one of the city’s representatives to the LCRDA. The meeting was then adjourned.
The next LCRDA meeting will be held virtually May 24.
Written LCAT Report to LCRDA, provided by Marcia Hurd
The Destination Development Pilot Program has evolved into a 10-year plan to make Lincoln County a true tourism destination. LCAT has established a vision of where they will be by 2031. They’ve also addressed how to achieve a competitive position, defined and prioritized destination imperatives, catalyzed what drives visitation and what sends it away and established goals to leverage growth to create secondary experiences and direct expanded infrastructure, all of which will have an economic impact on Lincoln County.
Hurd will be one of the presenters addressing the Destination Development process at the Nevada Rural Roundup, a premier conference for Nevada’s rural tourism industry.
Two applications were submitted to the Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT) Rural Marketing Grants, and two were awarded.
The Target Marketing: Paid Influencer grant is a vertical marketing grant for mountain bike trails promotion to a very specific market. The goal is to expand interest in the trails in preparation for the official grand opening/bike fest to be held in October.
The second grant’s goal is to create a local guide as a companion piece to the statewide Travel Nevada Visitors Guide. The NV Guide will bring people to the county, but a local visitors guide will provide key information that gets people to stay longer, thereby economically benefiting the community.
Both grants require a 50 percent match. LCAT is planning to request $1,000 from the Caliente Room Tax board as part of the matching funds for the paid influencer grant. They will also sell ads in the visitors guide, and the balance will be matched using nearly 150 hours of volunteer time.
LCAT’s website and social media audience continues to expand with focused campaigns and strong partnerships. The email blast “What’s Happening in Lincoln County” continues to grow, and promotional pieces from Travel Nevada are providing great support.
LCAT is working with partners to bring pop-up businesses in for event support, as well as helping define the types of support businesses that will be needed as tourism grows.