Empty industrial buildings opens door for target recruiting

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The economy is booming, yet industrial recruiter Kris Holt counts off empty manufacturing buildings by the dozens.

"In the 11 years I've been doing his, I haven't seen this many empty buildings," said Holt, executive director of the Northern Nevada Development Authority, which attracts manufacturers to Carson City, Lyon, Douglas and Storey counties.

"I've seen a dozen or 15 empty buildings but not 30."

Holt tallies 31 empty industrial buildings adding up to nearly 1 million unused square feet. The four counties have about 10 million square feet of industrial space in about 550 buildings.

Holt has tracked down 15 empty or soon to be empty manufacturing facilities in Carson City, with another eight in Douglas County and eight more in Lyon County.

"It has nothing to do with the local or state business climate. They are wonderful," Holt said. "A lot of companies are upgrading or downsizing. Some closed. Some have merged. At some the owner has died and some just moved."

Even with the most empty buildings in a decade, the Carson City area still has more manufacturing today than just a couple years ago. The region builds new industrial space at the rate of about 500,000 square feet a year, Holt said.

Holt is looking at this vacant building glut as an opportunity rather than a dire development. If nothing else, empty buildings have spurred Holt into a new marketing campaign.

Holt hasn't had to travel far to find a prime market.

"I want to run an ad campaign in the Bay Area, in the Silicon Valley Business Journal," Holt said. "San Jose has no office vacancies. I would think industrial is very tight and very expensive."

Holt is starting to shop for manufacturers even closer to home. He figures enough firms in Reno and Sparks might give Carson Country a try with a little coaxing.

Holt predominantly deals on the industrial front, but in recent months he has started recruiting for a handful of office complexes. Software producer Borealis Technology Corp. moved out of its home for the past three years at 4070 Silver Sage Drive, leaving a 19,000-square-foot building empty.

Also, the complex at 1179 Fairview Drive has 20,000 vacant square feet, Holt said.

As for industrial buildings, school supply distributor Beckly-Cardy left its 85,000-square-foot Mound House facility about a month ago. Deerskin Trading Post, 2500 Arrowhead Road, recently sold and Holt expects to see those 85,000 square feet vacant by mid-April.

Holt uses Deerskin as an example of how he wants to go about refilling empty buildings.

"It's not just filling an empty building with what was in it before," Holt said. "We want to fill it with the target businesses we want here."

The development authority targets clean industries such as plastics, electrical components, aerospace and high-performance auto parts. Authority members are lobbying that Holt also bring in vendors and suppliers for the manufacturers operating here. These would include anodizers, heat treaters, powder coaters and chrome plating firms.


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