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Steering committee discusses region’s economic future and strategy

CHRISTY LATTIN
Nevada Appeal News Service

Project managers from NorthernNVision were in Fallon on Tuesday to present findings to community leaders from seven Northern Nevada counties about the future of economic development in the region.

The consulting firm, AngelouEconomics, reduced the data down to five critical issues: a lack of diverse and high wage jobs, lack of a young and professional work force, low number of college graduates, the rising cost of living and unaffordable housing and the strain on infrastructure and natural resources.

The report broke down the key issues each county faces.

Key issues for Lyon County include having the fastest population growth in the region which strains infrastructure, a high unemployment rate and a low number of college graduates.

The Northern Nevada Development Authority has named the economic development strategy NorthernNVision, which will help determine the strengths and weaknesses of economic development in Carson City, Churchill, Douglas, Lyon, Mineral, Pershing and Storey counties.

NorthernNVision has been collecting data from all seven counties through a survey on its Web site, http://www.NorthernNVision.org.

The NNDA hired an economic development consulting firm from Austin, Texas, AngelouEconomics, to develop and help implement the strategy.

The report, called the Database of Assets, showed information on Northern Nevada’s population growth, average age, educational levels, income and wages, labor force, industry clusters and regional strengths. Information was taken from the U.S. Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The region’s population grew by 56 percent since 1990, ranging from above average growth of 119 percent in Lyon County to a 28 percent decrease in population in Mineral County.

The region’s median age of 39.9 years is slightly higher than the national median age of 36.3 years. The Census Bureau figures showed only 24 percent of the region’s residents fall into the “young professional” category of 25 to 44 years old, which is important because most high-tech companies want to see around 33 percent of residents in this age range.

The report showed the region has a low percentage of college-educated professionals and the region’s median income is $47,801, with the lowest in Mineral County and the highest in Douglas County.

Regional wages of $32,069 are also below the national average of $39,127.

Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the region’s labor force grew 1.7 percent between 2001 and 2005, which significantly lags population growth.

The next step is to conduct 10 focus groups around the region this week, followed by the development of a “visioning document,” which includes county visions, strengths and weaknesses analyses and identifying target industries.

The survey gathering will end May 31 and results will be analyzed and presented in the to the steering committee in June.

Ben Loftsgaarden, project manager, encouraged all businesses and residents in the seven counties to complete the three-minute survey on the Web at http://www.NorthernNVision.org.

• Contact reporter Christy Lattin at clattin@lahontanvalleynews.com.