Scene In Passing: Much ado about industry, culture and praise from afar |

Scene In Passing: Much ado about industry, culture and praise from afar

It was a national headline that warmed the cockles of a local business news purveyor’s mind, confirming a mini-trend not everyone is onto yet.

It, in this case, was atop a story this week in The Wall Street Journal about a trend that could help Carson City and environs if people push the right buttons, pull the right strings and woo the right folks into Northern Nevada. The headline?

“Manufacturers Gain Ground,” it read prominently on the WSJ’s front page. “Narrower Trade Gap Is Sign of a New Competitive Edge on U.S. Factory Floor,” a subhead reported.

The article didn’t detail a flood, but more of a trickle of a trend.

The trade deficit on manufactured goods in the first half of 2013 shrank slightly, from $227 billion the first half of 2012 to $225 billion the first half of this year.

The first paragraph, however, nailed it.

It said the reversal came after more than a decade of U.S. manufacturers losing ground to those in China and other powerhouse manufacturing nations.

So what does it mean locally? Little unless the city and region around it lure more of the right firms from pricey states, such as neighboring California, and build on the solid light-manufacturing presence already in place.

Making things is key, as is exporting rather than importing, and thereby building manufacturing employment toward 20 percent.

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On another economics subject, a recent vacation to Oregon included a stop at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to take in the Bard’s “The Taming of the Shrew” in an updated format featuring rock music and biker trappings. It was an eye-opener regarding an economic engine in a community, now with 22,000 people, built on a 1935 idea from a college professor.

The southern Oregon culture-klatch draws upward of 400,000 tourists annually and has grown into a $26 million annual operation.

A lively 24 hours, along with more than a few federal reserve notes, were spent in a vibrant community for merely 90 minutes of Elizabethan dialogue staged in spirited fashion.

Can’t do it here? Correct; the Bard’s stuff certainly isn’t the ticket. But that doesn’t mean Carson City couldn’t build on great musical theater already done here.

The Ashland experience is, say, only three generations and $25.9 million away. Still, as Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, a journey of 1,000 leagues begins with but a single step.

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Here and now, however, are a couple of online analyses saying Carson City can boast of much ado about something already.

Google rates Carson City the best in the state for online business activity, awarding it Nevada’s 2013 Google eCity title.

And NerdWallet, a consumer-friendly website based in the Bay Area, rates the city sixth in the state for young families to consider because of schools, average income, housing and economic growth.

To read more about that, see Page A4.

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at