What makes the capital region special in the eyes of business owners?

I truly enjoy working with Nevada Business Connections (NBC), encouraging companies to relocate or expand in northern Nevada, ultimately creating new jobs. Almost daily I am asked what is the difference between doing business in the Reno-Sparks area compared to the capital region (Carson, Douglas, Lyon and Storey counties). I love the question. I have the answer ... there is a difference. A major difference.

I don't care what the politically correct people say " we are not holding hands, skipping down the yellow brick road together ... we (the capital region) are in competition with the Reno-Sparks area. Direct competition. It's friendly competition, but it is competition. If our clients do not choose to relocate or expand in the capital region, we encourage them to move to the Reno-Sparks area, or anywhere in Nevada. Competition is good and healthy. It's the "American Way."

According to Ray Bacon, Director of the Nevada Manufacturers Association (NMA), California's Democratic legislators are proposing a $9.7 billion tax increase on the wealthy and corporations rather than spending cuts, and that could lead to another influx of people and companies escaping California, as happened in the 1990's when Gov. Pete Wilson raised taxes during a recession. "If this plan becomes law in California, every part of Nevada will prosper at their expense," he said.

The three reasons why the capital region is different and unique from our urban neighbors are: 1) manufacturing community, 2) sensible environmental regulations, and 3) the overall lower costs of doing business in the rural areas.

First, and foremost, the Carson City area is the manufacturing center of the state. "The United States has a manufacturing employment base of 10 percent and it is declining. That compares to 3.9 percent in the State of Nevada. In Las Vegas, 2.9 percent of employees are in manufacturing. Reno-Sparks is 6.6 percent. In the capital region, it is 9.4 percent in Carson, 7 percent in Douglas County, 16 percent in Lyon County and 16 percent in Storey County, said Jim Nelson, executive director of the Nevada Association of Employers.

Manufacturers love to be around other manufacturers. (There are close to 350 in the capital region). This is our No. 1 "Unique Selling Point" (U.S.P.). The manufacturing environment is our strongest attribute as we recruit new businesses and jobs for northern Nevada.

The second U.S.P. is sensible environmental regulations. Simply stated, you do not have to smog your vehicle in the capital region. We all know it is much easier to do business in Reno-Sparks compared to Santa Barbara. However, we emphasize that it is much easier to do business in the capital region when it involves air, water or hazardous materials compared to Reno-Sparks, and the state EPA offices are located in Carson City.

Kevin Dick, director of the Business Environmental Program, said manufacturers locating in the Reno-Sparks area can face more stringent sewer discharge limitations for some chemicals because treated effluent is discharged to the Truckee River. The river flows into Pyramid Lake which has no outlet and is home to the endangered Cui-Hui fish.

In addition to smog checks, Washoe County has developed lower air emission thresholds as part of its air quality program. The capital region has not had any problems in meeting federal air quality attainment standards.

The third U.S.P. is the overall lower costs of doing business in the capital region compared to Reno-Sparks. It is approximately 10 percent less across the board. The cost of real estate (both commercial and residential), labor force rates, property taxes, gas and even a parking ticket, are all a little less expensive than the urban areas. This can be a major factor as 80 percent of NBC's clients are family-oriented, mom-and-pop, 2-to-80 employee manufacturing operations. When we conduct tours of the region, Dad is usually in the front seat trying to pencil out and justify the numbers to make a decision, while Mom is in the back seat asking about schools, churches, shopping and entertainment. It is a major decision to move your family and business. You also have to convince your key employees and sometimes your suppliers and support services as well. It's the multiplier effect.

The quality of life issues are the icing on the cake. We all have our own, individual definitions of quality of life. We inform our clients that you can have your cake and eat it too ... whether you want to be a yuppie or a cowboy, you can live the lifestyle you want. We have companies that have their facilities in Carson and live at the lake, or their businesses in Minden and live in Dayton, or manufacturers who work in Storey County and live in Reno.

Ronni Hannaman, Executive Director of the Carson City Area Chamber of Commerce said, "Not only is it less expensive to live, work, play and shop, it is also less expensive to do business in Carson City. We appreciate when businesses relocate to our city and our governmental entities work hard to create a hospitable atmosphere to assist the business every step of the way."

There are so many issues, factors and variables in making a sound investment decision. That's what keeps this job interesting ... just remember some of the great success stories of the past: Harley Credit Corp., Starbucks Roasting Facility, Chromalloy Nevada, Kal Kan Pet Foods, Oakley Sunglasses, AVK, Duro Mfg., Calculated Industries, Maxton Mfg., Paughco, EZE-Lap Diamond Products, VRP, U.S. Welding, T&D Machine Products, Sierra Mold and Engineering, Betra Mfg., Veltrac, LSP Specialty Products, and the list goes on and on ...

Kris Holt is executive director of the newly formed Nevada Business Connections, which is working to attract businesses to the capital region.


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