Provided by Kelly Clark, USDA Rural Development Public Affairs Specialist, and RNDC

Normally “Small Business Saturday” is one day a year, in November, following Black Friday and preceding Cyber Monday.  These three well- hyped shopping days can make or break businesses, bringing many into the red or into the black.  When your business is in the middle-of-everywhere White Pine County however, every day of the week matters as much as the ones predesignated on a shopping calendar.

Whether you reside in Ruth, Baker, Lund, McGill, Ely or anywhere in between, being remote and rural means relying on your neighbor is a part of life. Our neighbors, friends, and family are the shoppers and the suppliers and thus, the lifeblood of the local economy. Everyone together preserves the way of life for all. Our small businesses are the keystones in that carefully constructed dynamic.

Knowing full well how important all of the small businesses in White Pine County are, the Rural Nevada Development Corporation is highlighting a few of the small businesses in rural Nevada that have benefitted from their nonprofit expertise.

Stargazer Inn / Kerouacs – Baker

In early 2017, Jake Cerese and Kate Claeys relocated from Brooklyn, New York to Baker, Nevada to purchase a restaurant/inn, financed by RNDC.  After many hours of hard work and renovation, they reopened as Stargazer Inn and Kerouac’s Restaurant, providing gourmet food, creative libations, and a second-to-none atmosphere for White Pine County residents and travelers alike.  They have since been featured in Nevada Magazine and Travel Nevada, not to mention a handful of lists of can’t-miss places to eat in Nevada.

Marie’s Café – McGill

Marie’s Café has become a McGill landmark, reopening in 2011 after a 6 month renovation with funding from RNDC.  Marie’s provides the only place for locals to eat in McGill and has fantastic food and a quirky, fun atmosphere.

Shannon Michael Sena, DDS – Ely 

Shannon Sena is a dentist in Ely and has been in operation since 2013. He borrowed from RNDC’s Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) when he initially set up his practice and reapplied for funding to purchase a dental practice in Eureka. He visits that office once a week, providing services to the people of Eureka that would have been lost to them at the retirement of the previous dentist.

Tiffany Swetich – State Farm Agent 

Tiffany Swetich is the State Farm Insurance agent located in Ely. When she first opened her agency, she had renovated an older home to fit her needs as an office. As her business expanded, she needed more room. With RNDC funds, she was able to purchase and renovate an old, historical building that had fallen into disrepair. The building went from an eyesore to a stunning office, complete with office space for five employees, a beautiful kitchen and bathroom, and an upstairs playroom for employee’s children.

For 25 years, from right here in Ely, Rural Nevada Development Corporation has been helping rural Nevadans with their home repair and weatherization, down payment assistance and small business lending.  “These funds are a crucial tool for economic development in rural communities,” said Mary Kerner, Chief Executive Officer of RNDC. “As an alternative lender, our role is to help get people into a conventional product so that they can grow their business and then apply for a conventional loan. That’s success to us.”

RD Nevada State Director, Phil Cowee says RNDC’s efforts have made a big difference in rural Nevada, “During the downturn many lenders turned away, but RNDC has been there to lend money to the little businesses on main street – the diner, the laundry mat, the automotive repair shop—that are integral to rural life,” Cowee said. “We are glad to be there to help, and thankful that RNDC extends that help to small rural Nevada business.”

Throughout the year, make a point to stop at shops and stores you’ve never been to before.  Visit a local eatery you’ve overlooked.  Go out of your way to go down the street and support the neighborhood thrift store or specialty shop before you click the buy button on an internet supplier’s website.  It could mean the difference between helping your neighbor or seeing another empty building on main street.

Soak n Suds – Ely

Soak n Suds is a laundromat that has been in operation in Ely since 2008.  In 2013, RNDC funded the purchase of Soak n Suds by Nathan Robertson.  It is the only laundromat service in White Pine County, filling the demand for locals and our transient working populations as well as serving tourists in the area.  They also offer a wash-and-fold service and can send out dry cleaning.

Robertson Optometry – Ely

Robertson Optometry is located on Great Basin Highway in Ely.  Robertson Optometry has provided decades of services in Ely, dating back to 1958 and is now owned and operated by Dr. Kent Robertson.  In partnership with Nevada State Development Corporation, RNDC funded the construction of a beautiful new office and state-of-the-art equipment, where they have been thriving for 5 years.

Wild West Grooming – Ely

Wild West Grooming is owned and operated by Billie Sue Heckethorn.  RNDC was able to help her purchase a larger location on main street in Ely, allowing for additional services and increased clientele.  In addition to pet grooming, they also do dog day-care.

For more information on the RNDC, visit

For more information on USDA Rural Development Nevada, visit