Recovery big on business leaders’ minds

An entrance to the Sportsman's Warehouse at the south end of the Carson Mall on Thursday afternoon.

An entrance to the Sportsman's Warehouse at the south end of the Carson Mall on Thursday afternoon.

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Forging forward in 2014 is a common theme stitching together comments by Carson City business boosters.

That marks a change from 2013, a year of foraging for financial footing by local commerce.

It wasn’t that the year ending in “13” proved unlucky. But sources say it was part of a halting-if-growing recovery nationally and locally that should provide Nevada’s capital city with building blocks for strength when the economy reaches liftoff and can transcend periodic pains.

Gil Yanuck, chairman of Carson City’s Chamber of Commerce, said 2013 hasn’t been fantastic even as he predicted next year will prove a “pretty good” one for the city and area. Mustering even stronger language, Ronni Hannaman, chamber executive director, put it this way: “2014 is going to be shaping up real well. I think it’s just the beginning.”

She said 2013 wasn’t a loss, citing the opening of eateries such as Buffalo Wild Wings and Jimmy John’s, with the opening of another Jimmy John’s imminent. The latter is a franchise rated in the top five for 2014 by Entrepreneur magazine. Rated the top 2014 franchise by the same magazine was Anytime Fitness, which along with Jimmy John’s has locations in both north and south Carson City.

Hannaman has said hot franchises locating here demonstrates that the market is attractive, as do announcements this year signaling a retail revival for Carson Mall. In the first few months of 2014, Sportsman’s Warehouse, an outdoor outfitter chain, and Bealls, a family apparel store run by Stage Stores Inc., will open in the space formerly occupied by Gottschalk’s store before that chain’s bankruptcy.

Carson Mall’s owner, The Carrington Co. in California, looks forward to increased traffic for new and old tenants there. The Utah-based outfitter will serve as lead anchor and the Texas-based apparel store will function as junior anchor at the shopping center just north of where Stewart and Carson streets meet.

“It’s good to have things happening,” said Carrington’s Joanne Holmes. She was joined in that assessment by city Supervisor John McKenna and Lori Bagwell, chairwoman of the city’s Redevelopment Authority Citizens Committee, who this year announced she is running for the Board of Supervisors to unseat McKenna in Ward 3.

“It’s nice to get the mall filled,” said McKenna. “I think we’ll have more improvement.”

“I’m excited for both Carson City and the mall,” said Bagwell, who has a business stake in mall revival. She and her husband are tenants there, operating Charley’s Grilled Subs.

Michael Salogga, city business development manager, expects a good upcoming year after underpinning was built in 2013.

“I think that we really saw the turnaround and the recovery take hold,” Salogga said. “You’re seeing it across industries, employment and the like. People are giving us good ideas for next year.”

Next year will bring changes in downtown’s historic business area, including completion of The Hub, a tech business incubator on North Carson Street, the start of a remodel for offices at the former Citibank building on Telegraph Square, and possible changes in downtown city-scape amenities to spur pedestrian traffic.

The latter proposal, however, is part of pending capital projects awaiting final decisions. Capital improvement plans could include spruce-ups not only for downtown, but business corridors to the north, south and east, as well as some financing for both an indoor athletic center and an animal shelter outside downtown. Town hall meetings and governing board decisions are planned during the first quarter of 2014.

Steve Neighbors of the Hop and Mae Adams Foundation, which owns The Hub, the old Citibank building and other downtown properties, views next year with some optimism based on an overall recovery.

“My perspective is that Carson City is a ‘lag’ economy,” he said. “I think the U.S. appears to be doing better. I think along with that, Carson City will.” Neighbors also thinks it helps that “some of the ‘extremes’ in politics are falling away. It doesn’t work for us to be polarized.”

The chamber’s Yanuck, a retired manufacturer, understands the national economy’s impact on communities such as Carson City. He also understands the impact state government decisions can have and worries about dwindling support among some legislators for Western Nevada College.

Preserving WNC is important to help produce trained people for the hospitality and manufacturing industries here and throughout Nevada, he said. Yanuck added that WNC hospitality courses for the lodging industry that started in 2013, as well as others for manufacturing that started earlier, need to continue. The latter supports more than 100 area manufacturing plants, which require skilled labor with pertinent training.

“The college is putting out people who can run computer-operated machinery,” he said. “We didn’t have that before.”

Such comments play into those of Kris Holt, director of Nevada Business Connections, who works to lure manufacturers and other firms into the capital and Northern Nevada.

“Manufacturing helps power the capital region’s economy,” Holt said. “We know of at least six manufacturers who plan on expanding in Carson City alone.”

Holt said that during the past year, outside business interest in the area was up almost 15 percent, with the bulk of it from California and in manufacturing.

“This new year should be solid and interesting,” he said.


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