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On Your Side: Waiting for the Tesla 'effect'

There are high hopes for what Tesla and some of the other emerging businesses out at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center are going to do for this area.

Lots of jobs have been promised, along with the kind of growth that may fuel our economy for years to come. But we found many are still waiting for the Tesla effect to really take effect.

Small town Yerington, for example, is still a small town these days. Empty storefronts are easy to spot on Main Street. Agriculture is still the primary industry, and this is a town where the local barbershop is still considered a gathering place.

It's a similar story in nearby Silver Springs, where the USA Parkway will eventually link Lyon County to Tesla and the rest of the businesses at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center.

But Tesla has yet to inspire much in the way of new development in towns like Yerington and Silver Springs.

Lyon County Manager Jeff Page says he hears a lot of ideas thrown around, but he says they are just that -- ideas.

"If every developer who told me they're going to build a truck stop or hotel, I'll have about 17 hotels and 15 truck stops," he said.

Instead, it's wait and see.

And it's hard to see much at Tesla. The company, as we found, likes to keep visitors at a distance. We were turned away by security when we tried to drive out to the site.

So we sent our drone up, which provides a unique bird's eye view of the massive project in Storey County. The Tesla Gigafactory is now 2 million square feet and growing.

Steve Hill, who heads up the Governor's Office on Economic Development, says it's just a matter of time before we see more impact from businesses like Tesla.

Hill points out a few months ago there were 350 full-time employees at Tesla. Now there are 1,000 with hundreds of more hires planned in the coming months.

"So we're going to go from 350 to 1,000 to 2,500 to 3,000 within about a year," Hill pointed out.

So the growth and whatever growing pains come along with that will come, Hill says. In time.

"We don't necessarily want to see a boom," Hill said. "That's not healthy."

The challenge for Lyon County leaders is planning for a future which, while promising, is still uncertain.

We had hoped to interview Tesla CEO Elon Musk for this story or anyone at Tesla. We put in our request weeks ago but we were told no one from the company would available for an interview.

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