Young professionals needed in growing capital city |

Young professionals needed in growing capital city

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer

A national consultant on young professional trends said maintaining affordable housing is a key component to wooing and keeping a youthful, vibrant workforce.

Rebecca Ryan, founder of Wisconsin-based Next Generation Consulting, said Tuesday that young professionals are more likely to put a high emphasis on their personal life, rather than their careers.

Ryan will be a keynote speaker at the Directions 2006 economic forum on Jan. 25 in Reno. Her session will address attracting the next generation workforce.

She said that catering to the next generation is vital for Northern Nevada because three out of four Americans under the age of 28 first choose a place to live and then find a job.

“In a community like Northern Nevada that’s growing at a phenomenal rate, ensuring a talented, young workforce to support that growth is imperative to its future economic development,” Ryan said. “Northern Nevada’s actions toward accommodating young professionals today will help shape a vibrant, successful economy in the future and create good-paying job opportunities for the next generation of workers.”

Young professionals look at their potential earnings and the entrepreneurial possibilities in a location.

“They look at the learning index. Where can I plug into life-long learning? They also look at the vitality index. Are people out and about? The social capital. How diverse is the community and how engaged are people?”

She said young professionals also evaluate whether their salary can afford a good lifestyle, since most young professionals are college graduates with about $19,000 in education debt.

Ryan and her colleagues have interviewed, surveyed and polled more than 7,500 people under 40 about why they live where they do. Those polled say the community and individual companies are responsible for attracting a young workforce.

Next Generation Consulting research shows that companies that cultivate a progressive workforce surpass their competitors in work performance by 28 percent to 35 percent.

Ryan said the one challenge facing the area is maintaining affordable housing for a lower-income workforce, so that they can begin the American Dream of home ownership. Other communities address this issue by mandating a certain amount of apartment square footage has to be set aside for those with lower incomes.

“We live in a free market economy,” she said, “The gods are smiling down on the Reno/Sparks area for so many reasons and that means you can charge more for homes. But somebody must step in, somebody must legislate rewards or incentives to build work-force housing. Some developers will build for the working-force demographic. Public policy can be passed.”

She said the community must decide if it wants to attract one social economic class, or if it wants to have a diversity of classes.

A large economic sector in Carson City is manufacturing, which has had difficulty attracting qualified workers. Manufacturing represents 9 percent of Carson City’s industry. Chromalloy Nevada is the third highest private employer in the city, with 300-399 employees, behind the Carson City Nugget and Casino Fandango, according to Nevada JobConnect.

“Manufacturing and banking are two industries that are attracting a proportionately smaller percentage of the higher skilled, highly trained workers compared to 20 years ago,” Ryan said. “Not a lot of kids say, ‘I’m going to get a manufacturing job.’ That’s just not sexy. There is a built-in pool of talent in Carson City that can be trained above and beyond that.”

She said local educational programs can do a lot to provide workers for local manufacturers.

At Directions 2006, Dr. John Mahaffy will present on what type and how many University of Nevada, Reno graduates are staying in the area after graduation. He will also discuss whether the region is able to provide relevant jobs for these college grads.

— Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.

If you go

WHAT: The 14th Annual Directions 2006

WHERE: The Reno Hilton

WHEN: 7 a.m. to noon

COST: Tickets are $75 per person. To order tickets, call 337-3044 or for information visit or Tickets are $85 per person at the door. Tickets for the economic forum, lunch and a Q&A session with the speakers from noon until 2:30 p.m. are $100 and must be purchased in advance.


Co-sponsored by the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada and the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce.

The event will provide attendees with a better understanding of the region’s economic strengths, weaknesses and opportunities to continue to diversify Northern Nevada’s economic base.