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Northern Nevada businesses buck trend, add workers

Rob Sabo
Nevada Appeal News Service

Some industries in Northern Nevada still are hiring despite the loss of thousands of jobs in the past 12 months.

From construction to casinos, most types of businesses in northern Nevada employ fewer people than they did a year ago.

But there are fish swimming against the current, as fields such as retail, restaurants and bars, education and manufacturing added a combined 1,000 jobs in the last year. From manufacturing companies to small niche retailers, jobs still are being created throughout the region.

For example:

– As it begins production of its commercial-grade waste-heat generator, ElectraTherm of Carson City expects to add 40 to 60 employees, primarily production welders and assemblers, by the end of 2009, Chief Financial Officer Steve Olsen says.

– Metal Solutions LLC, a sheet metal and fabrication shop in Mound House expects to hire five to 12 employees providing it lands a contract with a solar energy company, says Operations Manager Mike Castonguay.

– ITS Logistics recently moved into a 125,000-square-foot warehouse at Tahoe Reno Industrial Center and needs to hire 15 additional workers, including four management positions, says President Jeff Lynch. The nine-year-old company, which employs 160, expects to grow by 40 to 65 employees in 2009.

– Mag Wall Reno LLC in Sparks, which manufactures structural panels for the construction industry, recently began production and expects hire up to 15 employees, company President Keith Harris says.

– Selco Products Co. is in the process of relocating its manufacturing operations from Anaheim, Calif., to Reno, says Jim Reed, president and chief operating officer. United Construction is building Selco a $3 million, 29,703-square-foot facility on Technology Way which should be completed in April. Selco, which makes and distributes thermostats, thermal protectors and other controls, employs 40, and when it relocates it may hire up to 15 workers in the Reno area for assembly, shipping, sales and customer service, Reed says.

– BigCeramicStore.com off Glendale Avenue in Sparks recently acquired a 10,600-square-foot warehouse in the Vista Business Park and has been short several employees for some time, co-owner Cindi Anderson says.

– Scheel’s and Whole Foods Market, the largest entries into the retail market last year, added nearly 700 jobs. Scheel’s created 500 jobs when it opened a massive store in October at Legends at Sparks Marina, and Whole Foods hired 182 employees in addition to the 90 former Wild Oats Market employees it brought over when it opened its store on South Virginia Street in June.

New jobs are most plentiful in the health care and legal professions, says James Graham, economic development manager for the Reno Redevelopment Agency. Graham helped put together a Job and Resource Expo in November, and he says the 50 companies represented offered close to 1,000 jobs.

Graham says it’s important for laid-off workers with good skill sets ” such as an unemployed real estate agent, for instance ” to realize they are well qualified for jobs in many different fields.

“If you have been selling commercial real estate, your marketing and communication skills can be transferred to other professions, such as the pharmaceutical field,” Graham says. “Those skills can be used to communicate to hospitals and other users of prescription drugs how prescriptions can be used and the best way to acquire them. Communicative skills are very important in the medical field.”

And at the state’s JobConnect offices, some positions still are hard to fill, says Mae Worthey, public information officer for the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation. Because JobConnect offices typically serve blue-collar and hourly wage earners, there has been some difficulty filling the occasional upper-level professional opening that arrives.

“We don’t typically get a whole lot of people with bachelor’s degrees or higher-level management looking for jobs, but we do get postings,” Worthey says. “But we’re not necessarily getting people in who have a PhD.”

Industries that are losing jobs are led, far and away, by construction. Construction companies in Reno and Sparks have shed more than 4,200 jobs in the past year, says DETR. Administrative support services also took a big hit, losing more than 1,600 jobs, followed by leisure and hospitality, which lost 1,000 jobs.

Casino and hotel employment lost more than 700 jobs, while accommodation and food services lost 600 jobs each.