Consultant says keep young people here, promote entrepreneurs | NevadaAppeal.com

Consultant says keep young people here, promote entrepreneurs

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer

Northern Nevada needs to promote its self-starters and retain workers under the age of 45 to maintain prosperity, a national development consultant said Friday.

For many of the 60 regional leaders who attended the seminar at the Genoa Lakes Golf Club, the results weren’t that surprising. Some said economic expansion efforts have begun and the morning seminar was a prod to continue.

The final report for Northern NVision was revealed after 10 months of study, the work of 200 volunteers and the collection of 800 surveys. Angelos Angelou, principal of Angelou Economics, of Austin, Texas, said it will become vital for the young professionals in the next eight to 10 years to take over for retiring Baby Boomers.

“When we interviewed the top employers here, the No. 1 issue they said they faced is finding young, professional, skilled workers,” Angelou said. “They almost have to exclusively recruit from the outside because none of them are here.”

Young professionals, those aged from 25-44, are difficult to lure away from other areas, so it’s essential to provide the housing and entertainment venues to attract them and keep them here, he said.

“In large, successful cities, 34 percent of the work force is in that demographic,” Angelou said. “You have a long way to go to achieve those demographics.”

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About 26 percent of Carson City’s population is aged from 25-44, according to 2005 Census data.

At business meetings, Jarrod Lopiccolo, 26, owner of Noble Studios, said he’s in the minority. One way to involve young professionals is by forming a networking group.

“I think it’s phenomenal idea and it’s what this business community is lacking,” he said.

Native entrepreneurs and the growth of existing businesses will make up the majority of growth. Entrepreneurship can be fostered by an association that reaches all Northern Nevada, Angelou said.

Emily Lowe, marketing manager for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, said this would be difficult because the region is so spread out. The center will launch its first week-long event just for self-starters.

“From Feb. 27-March 3 we will have a kind of Art Town for Entrepreneurs,” she said, referring to the annual summer even in Reno. “We’ll have various workshops and events in Reno dedicated to the entrepreneur.”

The economic consultant said he’s been to several areas where the local leaders “admired” their problems. They talked about them for years without doing anything.

Ron Weisinger, executive director of the Northern Nevada Development Authority, said the area will be proactive.

• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.

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What Northern Nevada needs to do, and what it’s done already:

• Establish working groups to target six industries specifically for Northern Nevada, which include: business and financial services, software, clean energy, advanced manufacturing, advanced logistics and life sciences.

Until now, business recruiters here have responded to business expansion inquiries, rather than focus pro-actively on select industries, said Larie Trippet, Northern Nevada Development Authority business development manager.

• Form a young professionals networking group. Get them involved and recruiting others aged 25-44 to the area.

The Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology plans to start a group staged in trendy, wi-fi accessible businesses in Reno.

• Develop satellite college campuses that offer four-year degrees.

An effort has started. Western Nevada Community College, in partnership with the University of Nevada, Reno, offers an MBA program at the Minden campus. Nevada State College offers an elementary education bachelor’s degree. WNCC will ask the Board of Regents in December to approve the first construction management bachelor’s of technology degree offered by the college, said WNCC President Carol Lucey.

• Start a regional “incubator” for entrepreneurs.

The Rural Regional Incubator Project received a state grant last month. The incubator sounds like what it is: a place set aside for baby ideas to mature into productive enterprises.

• Revitalize downtowns in each of the seven counties and create recreational plans and open space

Carson City has developed plans for a pedestrian-friendly downtown plan and recreational areas.

• Develop a “regional brand” for Northern Nevada.

Carson City has started the process of developing its own tourism promotional brand. An overall, brand that captures the essence of Northern Nevada is a future project, said Ron Weisinger, executive director of the Northern Nevada Development Authority.

-Source: Northern NVision final report, Angelou Economics, at http://www.nnda.org