Reece Keener: City of Elko Mayor/Business Owner

I (Anthony Crosby) have had the honor of calling Elko my home for the past nine years, and in that short amount of time, it’s been incredible to see how much this community has grown! Not only has it flourished economically, bring in many new jobs and businesses, but it’s also bloomed culturally and socially as well. I love this town, and I’m very thankful for the men and women who work tirelessly to ensure that Elko is a place that is alive and prosperous! From the residents who voice their opinions in public meetings, to the person we’re chatting with today, they’re all valuable and play a role in the long-term success of this city! 

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Saying that this week’s guest is “quite active” in our community would be an understatement. Not only has this person been a business owner in Elko for twenty-five years (Print N’ Copy Center and Alliance Document Technologies), but he also currently serves as the mayor of Elko. We’re, of course, talking about Mr. Reece Keener!

Reece, thank you for taking the time to join us today! I’m sure many of our readers are eager to hear from you about the things you’re excited about in our community. However, let’s slow down and get to know you a little bit first. How did you come to call Elko home? 

“I grew up in Winnemucca as the oldest of three kids. My mom and dad owned a printing business there, so I’m a second-generation printer. I started working at my parent’s business in junior high and continued through high school, and until I was twenty-one when I realized I needed to go to college. I moved to Sacramento and enrolled at American River College, where I got my associate’s degree. After that, I transferred on to Cal State, Sacramento, where I got my bachelor’s degree in business administration. During my last semester there, I met my wife, Tami. It was love at first sight; sparks flew! We’ll be having our thirtieth wedding anniversary later this year!

“After graduation, I worked a few jobs down in the Sacramento area, but I wasn’t fulfilled in what I was doing. At this time, the couple who had started Print N’ Copy with my parents in 1985 was going through a divorce. There was an immediate need for them to exit the business. Tami and I came up to Elko to look at it, and I was super excited about it! I moved up here in the fall of 1995, and it seems like everything has been going ninety miles an hour since then! We’re very blessed to be here in Elko.”

Wonderful! Now, what’s the story that led you to occupy the office of mayor? 

“Many years ago, we lived on Dotta Dr. There was a plan to punch through Aspen Rd. so that Dotta would be a thoroughfare. It had always been a nice, quiet cul de sac, and we were now faced with the specter of having a lot of traffic coming in and out. The whole neighborhood showed up to the planning commission meeting, and I had never been to a public meeting before. That got me interested in government a bit. I also got to know our (then) mayor, Mike Franzoia; he encouraged me to look into an opening on the planning commission. I served on that board for about nine years, and it gave me a traffic view on how things work. In 2018, our mayor termed out. I was a bit squeamish about throwing my hat in the ring, but enough people convinced me to do so. I’m very humbled that the community selected me to represent them.”

What do you enjoy most about serving in your elected position, Reece?

“I would say seeing progress. I was pleased when we were able to get our new police station because there was a big need for it, and I’m excited the Elko Sports Complex will be opening up for business here in the spring! If a community is not growing, it’s dying. It’s important to keep up the growth and keep things dynamic. It makes our town more relevant and attractive to businesses and people who are interested in relocating here.

“Also, I love talking to kids! Now and again, I get to be a guest at one of the schools to talk with the kids or even read to them. It’s exciting to expose kids to government.”

As we mentioned, you’re not only Elko’s mayor; you’re also a local business owner. How are you, and your businesses, adapting to the ever-evolving ways of locals shop and consumed goods? How would you encourage your fellow local business owners who may be struggling in that area? 

“We constantly have to adapt and fight to remain relevant to our customers. It’s vitally important to know what the trends are and how to connect with our customers to keep as much business locally as we can. For anyone that is struggling, there are great trade organization resources that are available. I would also encourage everyone to have their own guiding principles for their organization; it really helps to provide an answer where you’re trying to decide which direction to go.”

Now, let’s talk about the city of Elko. First, what was your overall heart for this community when you chose to step into the office?

“When I was campaigning for mayor, our tagline was “Our best days lie ahead.” I still have that opinion. Elko has been singled out in two national awards as the best place in the state to be for a number of different criteria. Whether you’re a working person or business owner, there are lots of opportunities here.” 

Can you give us a sneak peek into some cool things that may be coming into our community throughout this new year?

“When I came into this, my desire was always to leave things better than when I found it. We have the new Kohl’s retail store going in on Mountain City HWY. We’re working on broadband development, bringing new providers to the area. We have a beautiful airport facility here, and I’m working on opening up new flight options; wouldn’t it be great to have a direct flight to Vegas for people who want to attend a Golden Knights or Raider game?

“I’m passionate about the downtown redevelopment efforts; there’s a plan to put in a Chicago Pizzeria and Pub in Stockmen’s with over one hundred beers on tap! Big O’ Tires is putting in a new shop over off 11th St. Greater Nevada Credit Union is building a new facility off the corner of 12th and Idaho. We also just found out someone is in contract to buy the old Lamoille Power building to build it back up to, potentially, use as a museum! 

“We need affordable health care. We’re continuing to work with developers to bring more housing options on the market, and of course focusing on creating a safe and clean community. We will see some other big things announced later this year, but a lot of people have been in a holding pattern as they wait to see how things shake out with NGM (Nevada Gold Mines).”

Fantastic! Thank you so much for your time and this conversation. Is there anything else you’d like to share before we let you get back to work?

“I love the community, and my wife and I truly do have a heart to serve it. We’ve been given so much throughout association with Elko that we desire to give back in whatever ways we can. Serving as Elko’s mayor is the highest honor of my life. Our best days lie ahead!”

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See you around, Elko!

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