Western Servo Design Inc. moved to Carson City from the Silicon Valley last August because of low taxes and the affordable housing market for its employees - a trend that one economic pundit has identified as a crucial force in a city's growth.
Georgina Fatehyar, Western Servo chief financial officer, said Wednesday her company took a risk in coming to Nevada, but it's proven to be worth it. She's giving out information to other high-tech California companies curious about Nevada.
"Now that we are here, we are the ones selling Nevada to them," said Fatehyar.
She and her husband, Esfandiar, started the business 18 years ago from their garage in Newark, Calif.
"And look at where we are now," she said. "We are in a big facility, we're in Nevada, and we're going to expand this one even bigger. My husband had a vision, and that's why it keeps growing."
In 2006, the company will double its building to 20,000 square feet at a cost of $500,000 to $600,000. Western Servo's six employees manufacture servo amplifiers for robotics. Western Servo was one of 15 companies honored Tuesday evening at the Governor's 21st annual Industry Appreciation Awards for relocating to Nevada.
The Reno area attracts business because of its lower taxes, low crime rate and its promise of upward mobility, said economic expert Joel Kotkin, the keynote speaker for the governor's awards. He wrote the May article in Inc. Magazine that ranked Reno as the No. 1 city for doing business in America.
"For a region to succeed, it has to have faith in itself to sacrifice and defer instant gratification," Kotkin said. "Which is weird to say for this state, because it is built on instant gratification."
Reno has had 14.1 percent increase in business-services jobs and a 6.1 percent increase in financial services jobs since 2001. He said the cities that succeed develop a sense of place, which means preserving the environment, investing in law enforcement and preserving a religious community.
"When you start closing churches, synagogues and temples, that's not a good sign," he said.
Also not a good sign: When the middle class begins to disappear. That happens when people are unable to afford a home in the city.
"Reno succeeds because of the cost of buying a house, the ability of a person who is in the middle class to be able to live like they're in the middle class," Kotkin said.
He said Reno is a city of aspiration because people can come here and feel like life can get better.
Georgina Fatehyar has found that to be true with her employees.
"They love it because here they can afford their own houses. The Bay area is one of the most expensive areas to live in," she said.
The median value of a house in Nevada was $142,000, according to the 2000 U.S. Census. In California, it was $211,500.
Successful cities attract those in their 30s looking to settle down, start a business and a family. They also attract the "down-shifting baby boomers," or those in their 50s who are not ready to retire.
Kotkin cautioned Reno not to get a big head.
California was once an attractive place for business. And crime can cross the border just as quickly as new business.
"And if Reno becomes too expensive, they'll find themselves a city of aspiration somewhere else."
n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.
Local businesses honored at the Governor's 21st Annual Industry Appreciation Awards:
• Western Servo Design of Carson City
• Starbucks Manufacturing Corp. of
• Vitamin Research Products of Carson City