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ELKO — Southwest Gas Corp. recently opened an operations center in Elko to facilitate area growth and economic development.

“Elko has been a growing area of our service territory,” said Southwest Gas President and CEO John Hester. “We are really excited to be part of that energy solution.”

The company celebrated the opening of its 16,000-square-foot facility at 2901 Ruby Vista Drive with a ribbon cutting May 15. The building includes space for training, a fabrication shop and a warehouse.

The facility was designed by Lombard Conrad Architects and constructed by Ormaza Construction. Planning began in October 2015, construction commenced in June 2017, and Southwest Gas office and field employees moved in about Eastertime this year.

Brad Harris, Southwest Gas vice president of the Northern Nevada division, welcomed a standing-room-only crowd to the company’s grand-opening celebration. He said the Elko operations center will help Southwest Gas personnel serve local customers and respond quickly to emergencies, if needed.

“We are very excited about unifying our customer assistance and operations personnel in this facility as we strive to continually enhance the service and safety of our customers,” Harris said.

The district manager stationed at the Elko operations center is Frans Yorgensen.

“He is Southwest Gas here in Elko and the surrounding communities,” Harris said.

Byron Smith, managing architect at Lombard Conrad, said designing the center was a great project. Design elements that contribute to the project’s sustainability include maximizing open space and preserving existing wetlands on the 15-acre site, using a remote-controlled heating and cooling system to reduce energy consumption, and incorporating energy-efficient fixtures to conserve water and electricity.

Pedro Ormaza, president and owner of Ormaza Construction, said the work helped keep locals employed over the past year and that the project represents a substantial accomplishment for his company.

“We’re very proud of that,” he said. “It’s a great project. The money stayed local.”

Investing $8.5 million in the facility and contracting local businesses for design and construction are some of the ways the company showed its commitment to serving and supporting the area.

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“We want to be part of this community,” Harris said. “Southwest Gas is proud to serve Elko, and our new operations center is a tangible symbol of our commitment to, and investment in, the communities we serve.”

In another demonstration of investment, Hester presented a check to representatives of Great Basin College in support of the college’s technical programs. Through education and training, GBC students could one day become employees of Southwest Gas.

“Thank you for investing in our community,” Matt McCarty, chief development and foundation director at GBC, said to Hester after the check presentation.

“I’m happy to be a small part of it,” Hester responded.

The company also supports the communities where it operates through community engagement programs, including an employee charitable giving fund that supports nonprofit organizations and volunteering.

“We are looking well into the future, as well,” Harris said.

Spring Creek is an area that has the attention of Southwest Gas leaders for the future. Although the company has not yet filed an application to serve Spring Creek, Hester said he is enthusiastic about the possibility of serving the area and “our company is very supportive of that.”

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