Futures conference kicks off government partnership

The first ever “Nevada US-95 I-80 Futures” conference brought together community leaders from Lovelock and Pershing County, Winnemucca and Humboldt County to seek collaborative solutions to economic roadblocks such as shortages in housing and skilled, high-tech workers.

The get-together was hosted by the Nevada 95-80 Regional Development Authority. The new RDA should qualify for state financial aid to promote economic growth in the dual-county region.

If the plan succeeds, Lovelock and Pershing County could see more business diversity, more education and training, more home construction, more state and even world-wide attention.


At the top of the list was Ralph Runge of West Coast Salmon, a Norwegian company that intends to build one of the world’s largest, land-based fish farms in what seems like an odd location — the high desert of Pershing County. 

But a deep, clean aquifer, relatively low energy costs and nearby, urban markets for salmon are some of the reasons the Norwegians picked Nevada and Pershing County according to Runge.

Runge has told local farmers the fish farm’s water recirculating system will be so efficient and pollution-free that there should be little impact on the aquifer and the nearby Humboldt River.

Runge told the crowd that the salmon farm will attract plenty of attention from overseas.

“About five to seven years from now, this area’s going to have one of the largest, most technology-advanced aquaculture facilities in the world,” he said. “I can promise you there’s a lot of people in Europe, Scandinavia and South America that have had their maps out looking up Humboldt and Pershing counties. There will be a lot of people coming to visit this facility.”


Next up was Lovelock Mayor Mike Giles revealed the fish farm has been in the works for years. 

“Following West Coast Salmon, you can see what some of us in Lovelock and Pershing County have been working on since 2017,” he told the crowd. “This project will be beneficial to all the partners in the US-95 I-80 development authority.”

Giles explained how his community is prepared for economic and population growth.

“The City of Lovelock and Pershing County have worked together to make it easier for a developer or a builder to come into our area,” he said. “A few years ago, the city took a hard look — are we ready for growth? We then went on a program to upgrade sewer, streets and we dragged the Lovelock Meadow Water District along with us in upgrading water.”

Giles said 98 percent of city sewer lines have been upgraded, streets were repaved and a state-of-the-art sewer plant was installed. The plant can handle 600,000 gallons per day but currently runs 280,000 to 300,000 gallons per day so there’s room for expansion, he said. 

As for broadband internet, Giles said the city and county are working with AT&T to get hard-wired internet to government buildings that could “break out into wireless” internet.

Giles said there are parcels with paved roads and utilities ready for new home construction and the City of Lovelock “is more than willing to sit down with any developer that wants to come in.”

“Housing has always been an issue in our community. Currently, we have one subdivision that has 17 lots with paved streets, curbs and gutters, sewer and water to the lots and Southwest Gas underground along with the electrical,” he said. “We have another parcel at the south end of town that’s capable of 24 units with sewer and water stubbed to the project.”

Giles believes the proposed whiskey distillery could “drag them across town” meaning it could attract out-of-town whiskey lovers and that could benefit other downtown Lovelock businesses.

“One project you are going to hear more about today, that we’re very excited about in the City of Lovelock, could revitalize our downtown area. That’s the Seven Troughs Distillery. He’s looking to move into the center of town and I think this will be the business that could help stimulate downtown redevelopment and draw people across the railroad tracks. We’ve been looking for some business to drag them across town and we believe Seven Troughs will be that anchor.”

Giles ended his speech by recalling the political rivalry more than a century ago between Pershing and Humboldt counties. In 1919, Pershing County was the last county to be formed in the state when it escaped the dominance and alleged neglect by the county to the north.

“Looking down the road, regardless of whatever happened 102 years ago, Pershing County, the City of Lovelock, Winnemucca and Humboldt County are in lockstep for the citizens of our communities,” Giles said. “We’re ready for anything you want to talk about.”


Seven Troughs Distilling Company owner Tom Adams said his Sparks distillery makes old time whiskey and will use local grain to expand production at the future Lovelock distillery. He said his recipe duplicates the whiskey consumed by pioneers as they crossed the Great Basin.

Adams did his homework and claimed Lovelock has the “best whiskey water” in the state.

“And, I am proud to say that we produce Nevada whiskey from Nevada grain and will continue to do so in Pershing County,” he said, drawing enthusiastic applause from the crowd.

Adams said he’s “confident” about buying the Windmill from Pershing County this year and has hired an architect but is still “working through the financing for equipment and operating capital.”

For a related story, see Page 36.