RENO - The Grand Sierra Resort was full of successful business owners and managers Thursday night at the Governor's Industry Appreciation Awards. But economic development officials hope an equally appropriate term for them is "role model."
It's businesses like them - those adding employees and those relocating to the region - that will be the key to the economy for decades to come. It's the primary focus of groups such as the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada and the Northern Nevada Development Authority, which organized the event.
"What you have done is encourage others to take that great step," said Gov. Jim Gibbons in his address to the award winners.
John Breternitz, chairman of EDAWN, told the approximately 800 people gathered that they've succeeded in bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars to the region by recruiting such companies, which have been especially crucial with the slowdown in the housing market.
The Industry Appreciation Awards recognize companies that have grown substantially and new companies that have moved their businesses to what's now officially termed Greater Reno-Tahoe among economic development officials.
Several of the companies recognized were from Carson City and Minden and one of them, CGI, was among just five companies awarded a Distinguished Business of the Year Award, based on not just their economic contributions, but community involvement.
CGI, located in Carson City, designs and manufactures precision motion control products. It moved to the city from California in 1990 and expanded in 1999 to 50,000 square feet and 68 employees.
It has contributed about $22,000 each year since 2000 to local non-profit organizations and charities, including the Boys & Girls Club and D.A.R.E., in addition to hundreds of volunteer hours put in by its employees.
Company president Mike Madison said he was honored by the award, but gave much of the credit to his employees. While he acknowledged the spike in housing prices has made it more difficult to recruit employees, he said Northern Nevada remains a great place to operate a business because of a favorable tax structure and the state's natural assets.
"The advantages are still here," he said. "... We've got all the great things here that make the quality of life great."
Other Carson City businesses recognized were Complete Millwork Services, Inc., Aloha Medicinals, Veltec Sports and Sunie Seiki Tech Co. Ltd.
Businesses from Minden that were recognized included Goldcorp Inc./Marigold Mine, Starbucks Coffee Roasting Plant, American AVK Co., MCR Automation and Steam Turbine Blading and Parts.
The last Carson businesses to win the Distinguished Business Award was Taiyo American in 2003 and New Life Bakery in 2000.
Guest speaker Alan Webber, founder of Fast Company magazine and a columnist for USA Today, told the crowd that Greater Reno-Tahoe is ideally positioned to take advantage of two great waves - baby boomers looking to relocate and remain active in the work force, and Gen Xers, younger people also looking for quality of life and vibrant communities.