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Glimmers of hope in area economy

John Seelmeyer
Nevada Appeal News Service

Some shots of good news for the Northern Nevada economy may be just days away, and more might be coming in the first weeks of 2009.

Economic development agencies and commercial real estate brokers say a number of potential employers are shopping for office and factory locations in Northern Nevada. And although it’s unclear how serious some of the shoppers may be, others appear ready to sign the papers for facilities in the region.

In the Carson City area, a major company ” one of the nation’s largest ” is getting close to a decision on an alternative-energy facility, said Ron Weisinger, executive director of the Northern Nevada Development Authority.

Weisinger won’t identify the company before it makes its decision. More announcements are possible in early 2009.

NNDA is “the busiest we’ve been in six years” in Carson City and neighboring counties, said Weisinger.

About 20 percent of the prospects are companies from Asia and Europe that are looking to take advantage of the relatively weak U.S. dollar to purchase land and manufacturing assets in Northern Nevada, he said.

Small homegrown companies, meanwhile, are looking for locations to expand their operations and their employment, Weisinger said. Some decisions could come early next year, with others extending over the next 24 months.

“We’re not talking about tire-kickers,” he said.

The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada is working with more than 15 companies that it expects to make decisions within the next six months or so, said Chuck Alvey, president and chief executive officer of the agency.

Those companies, he said, could represent 700 to 1,000 new jobs for the region.

All told, EDAWN is aware of about 130 companies that have expressed some level of interest in location of plants or offices in the region.

Commercial real estate brokers say they’re working with a steady stream of clients, although the demand for industrial space is nothing like it was a couple of years ago.

“There’s enough activity to keep you checking your voicemail,” said J. Michael Hoeck, an industrial broker with NAI Alliance in Reno.

But he said it’s hard to judge the seriousness of some of the companies that claim to be looking for office and factory locations in Northern Nevada, and he said property owners need to be careful they don’t get their hopes up too high that vacant space will be occupied any time soon.