It may be only a blip on the radar screen, but it's a welcome one.
Taxable sales in Carson City finally moved to the positive side in July, the latest figures from the state show. They were 2.1 percent ahead compared with the same month of 2002 -- an unremarkable figure, except it broke a yearlong slide of negative numbers.
The culprits are as obvious as the giant empty buildings on either end of town -- Kmart to the north, Wal-Mart to the south. When the former closed up and the latter moved across the county line, sales tax revenues -- the main source of income for city government -- took a double whammy.
It's too soon to know if the upward trend will continue. Certainly general merchandise sales remain a big worry, because they were a dismal 45 percent down from July 2002. As has been the case most months, auto sales and gasoline made up most of the difference.
But statewide numbers showed a better-than-healthy growth of 10.2 percent, as did Northern Nevada as a region. As we know from the 2003 legislative session, a healthy state economy fueled by gaming, tourism and retail sales will go a long way to calm the jitters over funding for services ranging from public education to Medicare.
The key message for Carson City, in our way of thinking, is that Northern Nevada constitutes a regional economy which will sink or swim on the strength of quality jobs, coordinated and effective marketing efforts to draw visitors, and long-range vision by its leaders.
We're not in competition with each other -- that's you we're talking about, Carson and Douglas -- as much as we're in competition with the rest of the world in attracting industry and tourism. Even in the desert, a rising tide lifts all boats.