Courage to change, upgrading business corridors and cutting red tape to spur Carson City’s economy were among highlights touched on by new City Manager Nick Marano during a Wednesday speech.
City government’s new staff executive, on board since June 2, spoke at the breakfast meeting of Nevada Business Connections (NBC), a private sector economic development group. Another facet of Marano‘s breakfast appearance was his push for public/private cooperation.
“I think everything functions best with that public/private partnership,” he said. He also praised city government, but didn’t ignore work to be done.
“The city government is in good shape,” he said, adding tough decisions and action took the city through down times.
“Is it in great shape?” he asked, clearly a rhetorical question he wasn’t ready to answer definitively after less than three weeks on the job. “We’ll see.”
Marano said downtown and other business corridor improvements, along with capital projects involving an animal shelter and recreational or cultural facilities, are being financed with an eighth of a penny city sales tax hike and are significant aspects of change in societal times that are unique.
“We have really entered a period of destructive innovation,” he said, citing examples from technology and changing business models. “The millennial generation is probably the most fickle generation we’ve ever raised.”
He said that isn’t a criticism, but something which must be taken into account.
Marano recognized competing interests are at play in the city regarding how to do the downtown and other business corridor upgrades, which he called “the most important project that we’ll work on for years.”
He talked of a book called “Reimagining Greenville,” which is about a South Carolina mill and textiles community which had courage to court change and stick to plans for that change. The book’s subtitle: “Building the Best Downtown in America.”
Asked about downtown retail here and the need for at least three blocks of it, Marano said Greenville’s comeback included retail but not in the beginning. “That was the piece that tied it all together,” he said, noting a key was luring speciality shops able to provide niche products and compete against the Amazons and WalMarts of the world.
Regarding red tape, he answered a question with a question, then expanded on his remarks.
“Are we a, quote-unquote, ‘business friendly community?’ We need to be,” he said. He added a comment city government should help craft a community in which it’s “as easy as is humanly possible to open or expand a business.” At the same time, he offered up the caveat codes and other regulations aren’t all set by city government, but follow uniform codes and the like.
Asked to cite the most impressive things he has learned about Carson City, he mentioned friendliness, a collegial atmosphere in city government and the Board of Supervisors that hired him.
“The board is willing to take on tough decisions,” said the retired Marine Corps colonel and former management consultant.