A group of Nevada mining companies are digging deep to help small storefront businesses in Nye and Esmeralda counties endure the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with state and local economic development staff, the mines have donated more than $200,000 to help businesses such as the Dinky Diner in Goldfield stay afloat during the emergency.
Paul Miller, the director of the Southwest Central Regional Economic Development Authority in Pahrump, already administers a small business revolving loan fund for U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development. When Kinross called in April wanting to adapt that program to an emergency grant fund to assist COVID-19-affected businesses, Miller was ready.
“We wanted the funding to go directly to keep these businesses going so they can reopen and keep employees,” said Emily Hendrickson, Kinross Round Mountain’s corporate responsibility specialist. “We know these businesses are incredibly important to the local economy and make all the difference to life in these communities.”
Patty Herzog, the rural director at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, was a liaison who introduced a few mining operators to Miller. Miller created a simplified grant application and handles the background paperwork, and his SWCREDA office manages distribution of funds to the businesses.
“Kinross Round Mountain and Gemfield, Corvus Gold, Bullfrog Gold and Anglo Gold/Ashanti Americas have all stepped up with grant donations, and it is amazing,” Miller said. “Many of these small businesses are just hanging by their teeth, and the owners are telling me this grant program will help them to hold on for a little while until the state reopens.”
Kinross Round Mountain and Gemfield Mine each donated $100,000 for the grant program, with the goal of providing between $1,000-$5,000 to storefront businesses in Esmeralda and Nye County that have been distressed because of the COVID-19 emergency.
“Small businesses that are not able to get support from the stimulus funding are finding the help they need with this grant program,” Herzog said. “Paul’s initiative to pull in mining industry partners and modify an existing USDA funding program is providing critical support these small businesses need to survive right now.”
To date, 31 rural businesses have received grants, including Blitz Creek Bar and Grill in Round Mountain and Sagebrush Dreams Flowers and More in Tonopah.
“We are so grateful, these funds made all the difference,” said Jeanne Metzger, owner of Sagebrush Dreams. “I’ve been operating on a shoestring, and this grant allowed me to keep my inventory coming in.”
Liandra Dutton, co-owner of the Blitz Creek Bar and Grill, said the restaurant had to close for two weeks and the grant funds were the only way the restaurant could afford to reopen for take-out. “Their donation really helped us,” Dutton said. “As one of only two restaurants in town, it has really brought the town back to life.”
Dinky Diner owner Karie Burham said the funds helped keep the only restaurant in Esmeralda County operational with take-out throughout the pandemic. She is now providing meals to seniors through a county program.
The Gemfield Mine near Goldfield is not open yet, but the company saw the need and responded.
“This pandemic is affecting everyone globally, said Debbie Lassiter, Gemfield’s executive director of environmental affairs. “The amount of need is shocking. Without this funding, we know many of these small rural businesses would just go away.”
For more information visit the SWCREDA website at www.SWCREDA.com or email Miller at email@example.com.