Tech leaders to explore Reno as possible industry location
RENO — More than 200 tech sector CEOs, executives and government leaders have decided to descend on Reno to see if the Biggest Little City in the World can come up with a big blueprint for emerging technology hubs.
The inaugural VentureBeat Blueprint event runs Monday through Wednesday, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported .
The invitation-only gathering will focus on crafting a plan for heartland cities and other areas that feel left behind by the growing technology industry.
“The heartland — middle America — has been left behind and this is a protest vote,” said Matt Marshall, who founded VentureBeat in 2006. “The coasts have done well but the heartland has not and they don’t have the internet skills, the training or the venture capital that has been invested in these companies.”
Marshall said the rising costs in the Bay Area make Reno especially intriguing due to its close proximity to Silicon Valley.
Last year, the median 20 percent down payment in San Jose was equal to the full median price of a home in the United States, according to Zillow. In December, San Francisco posted the highest average rent in the nation for a one-bedroom apartment at $3,253 with San Jose placing third at $2,397, according to a report from Abodo.
“I’m sitting here thinking, ‘How do I afford a house (in the Bay Area) with my wife and two kids,’” Marshall said. “Reno suddenly starts looking more attractive.”
The cost to hire a worker in Silicon Valley is also causing Marshall to consider hiring outside of the area for his company.
Although $100,000 would be seen as a nice annual salary in most other places, the income is not enough when considering the high cost of living in the Bay Area. Then there’s Silicon Valley’s “mercenary culture,” which is reflected in its high turnover rate for employees hopping from one company to another, Marshall said.
The costs combined with the high-stress environment that comes with working in Silicon Valley is being cited as one reason for the exodus from the Bay Area. In the fourth quarter of 2017, the San Francisco metro area topped the nation for its negative population outflow as more residents moved out compared to people moving in, according to real estate firm Redfin.
Some of Reno’s avid supporters fancy the city becoming the next Silicon Valley. For folks like Doug Erwin, however, Reno is better off becoming, well, just Reno.
“I would never say that we want to be the next Silicon Valley, I’d say we want to be the best version of ourselves where people have the best opportunities,” said Erwin, who has experience working in a startup and is now senior vice president of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada in Reno. “If we just turned into the next Silicon Valley and lost all the great things about Reno, I think that would be a fail.”