Rick Lattin has served as a small business counselor at the Small Business Development Center in the Churchill Entrepreneur Development Association since the beginning of the organization in the late 80s. Overseen by the Nevada SBDC office which is housed in the College of Business at the University of Nevada, the Fallon office of the SBDC has enjoyed a stellar reputation under Lattin’s tenure, assisting numerous local businesses with their start-up process as well as millions of dollars of start-up capital funding.
For several years Lattin has been threatening to retire, and not unlike Steve Ranson, continues to answer the call for his extensive, local expertise.
But as his children will gladly tell you, Rick has gradually pulled himself back to the farm out on McLean where he and his constant support, wife B-Ann are also gradually pulling away from farming to enjoy retirement.
Enter Kelli Kelly, a local volunteer for several organizations and who also heads up the Fallon Food Hub, the farm box subscription service, is a professional chef, and columnist for this publication. Kelly has been tapped to be the newest small business counselor at CEDA/SBDC and will focus specifically on assisting agriculture businesses.
Known officially as the CEDA Agriculture Advisor, Kelly will assist the many prospective agriculture businesses, with producer certification, cottage food licensing, and value-added products. “I am also the resource for information about the different agencies out there to help provide support for agricultural businesses like USDA Rural Development or the Farm Services Agency,” said Kelly.
Sara Bebee, operations manager of CEDA is highly experienced in helping clients navigate regular business needs such as taxation, licensure, financing, etc.
Kelly said one of the top focuses for her at the moment is the pandemic-related grant opportunities for ag producers, food manufacturers, and meat processors that allow them to file for reimbursement of certain expenses during the pandemic that ranges from $1,500 to $25,000.
“When it comes to the Nevada SBDC and business counseling, I bring a variety of past experiences. The different fields I’ve worked in are going to be a resource not just for clients in Churchill County but also for other advisors throughout the state.”
She said there is currently only one ag advisor in the state. “The need for that is primarily in the north, but there is the potential that I could get reached out to by any of the other SBDC advisors around the state for information or guidance for clients they may have who have ag businesses or ag-adjacent businesses.”
Kelly said the SBDC is supportive of her experience which includes being the Executive Director of a non-profit, experience with board governance, and also starting her own culinary small business. “There’s a variety of hats I can wear, it really runs a wide gamut.”
She said so much agricultural innovation has happened in Churchill County. “It used to be when you drove through Churchill County there would be some produce growers and then irrigated field-crop farmers for silage. You know that silage frequently got sold for the benefit of dairies that were here. We had melons and we had milk.”
She talked of the innovation through Desert Oasis Teff that was a recipient of a Rural Business Development Grant, and the Frey Distillery that received a Value-added Producer Grant in cooperation with the USDA Office of Rural Development.
“I have experience writing grants for those same programs and getting selected for funding,” she said. “As we move forward, I can be a resource for other ag businesses in Churchill County who are interested in pursuing those things.”
Kelly said she has also cultivated a good relationship with the acting state director of the FSA, “which is an organization which frankly needs help getting the word out about their programs. They have really low-interest loans to help farmers acquire land, to get equipment, to have an influx of cash. I really think they are being underutilized especially by the small to medium produce growers and first-time farmers.”
To contact Kelly and make an appointment at the SBDC office, call 775-423-8587 or sign up online at nevadasbdc.org.