Nevada’s booming economy is particularly visible in the Reno-Sparks-Tahoe area, where Lux Dynamics is located.
Nevada’s booming economy is particularly visible in the Reno-Sparks-Tahoe area, where Lux Dynamics is located.
Financial Health
August 9, 2016

More than one winning hand in Nevada’s economy

New USA Today/Wells Fargo research finds Nevadans confident about the state’s business climate and the success of efforts to diversify the economy.

The big story in Nevada these days is far from the famed Las Vegas strip, and the word about the state’s winning hand in economic development is getting out.

That development is particularly visible in the Sparks-Reno-Tahoe area, where the Tesla Gigafactory and other advanced manufacturing, technology, and logistics business locations have the economy booming.

RCLCO, a leading real estate research and consulting firm, ranks the area the No. 4 economic development spot in the U.S.

“We are already diversified (the gaming industry accounts for less than 8 percent of the economy) and have a growing tech sector,” says Mike Kazmierski, president and CEO of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada. “Our major growth is advanced manufacturing, technology, and logistics.

“In fact, we’re projected to add over 50,000 new jobs in less than five years, so we’ll need even more talent in the region to fuel this growth and more affordable housing to accommodate this influx of talent.”

New research finds Nevadans confident about the state’s economy.

Seven years after the end of the Great Recession, recent USA Today/Wells Fargo research finds Nevada residents matching others surveyed in the U.S.: They are more upbeat about the economic health of their own communities than they are about the national economy.

Of those surveyed in Nevada, 19 percent say economic conditions in the U.S. are good, for example, but 38 percent say the same about their local economies. Nearly half (49 percent) say the housing market is strong, and 45 percent say they are better off financially today than a decade ago.

Sixty-nine percent of Nevadans think reasonable cost of living expenses and a growing job market are key to local economic health.

The survey results come from an online Ipsos poll for Wells Fargo and USA Today taken Feb. 4–11 of 2,511 adults age 18 and older.

Nevada residents cite three top industries important to the economy.

A changing economy

While 70 percent of Nevada residents overall rank tourism and gaming as important to the state’s economy, an even larger percentage (72 percent) support the use of tax breaks and other incentives to diversify the economy beyond those industries.

Residents cite renewable energy (36 percent) as being the most promising industry for economic growth in Nevada, followed by technology (24 percent), advanced manufacturing (11 percent), and mining (9 percent).

“Nevada as a whole has done an exceptional job in utilizing both solar and geothermal energy, and the state is a leader when it comes to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings,” says Dave Sullins, Wells Fargo Northern Nevada area president. “Wells Fargo is a big advocate of these technologies and the companies seeking to improve the diversification of energy.”

He adds that Wells Fargo is the state’s top small business lender, as well as in Reno-Sparks-Tahoe where the company is seeing growth beget growth. That includes Lux Dynamics (pictured above), which opened its plant there in 2008 to manufacture energy-efficient, sustainable lighting for indoor sports, industrial plants, and other high-abuse environments.

“Nevadans believe that our state has a lot to offer.”

“While this area has just 15 percent of the state’s population, which can make us a bit masked in the overall state numbers, our economy is very strong,” Sullins says. “In four years the unemployment rate has been cut in half, population continues to increase, jobs continue to grow, and the housing market continues to improve.

“With lending to small business, we’ve definitely seen an increase in lending to professionals and those looking to expand or relocate their practices to this market. Overall, I think Nevadans believe that our state has a lot to offer in terms of providing the support, resources, and low business costs to help these companies be the most successful they can be.”

Winning strategy

Kazmierski credits his group’s success to:

  • Community support in 2011 for a regional economic development plan that put advanced manufacturing as a new target industry.
  • An aggressive marketing program that included scores of visits to real estate professionals scouting for plant locations and to national corporate real estate leaders to sell the area.
  • A coordinated effort to rebrand the Reno-Sparks-Tahoe area as a business location and not only a gaming and tourism community.
  • A new emphasis on startups and entrepreneurial development.
  • Competing and winning the Tesla plant.

“It’s a team effort,” Kazmierski says, “and Wells Fargo and other businesses are crucial to our success in many ways, from their support for area companies, involvement in economic development efforts, and direct investments that help us execute on our regional economic development strategy.”