Primary employers can insulate Carson from economic woes

When the unemployment rate blasts upward, all industries get burned. But some industries are more insulated against small economic fluctuations than others.

The Economic Vitality Strategic Plan targets development of those insulated businesses that provide "primary" employment. Primary employers are defined as those who contribute to the economy in Carson City as opposed to those that depend on it, such as retail.

While retail industries provide critical services to the community, any general economic decline hits retail businesses such as stores and restaurants harder than it hits other industries.

Primary employers who are a benefit to Carson City include state government and manufacturing. As the state capital, the city reaps unique economic rewards. But Carson also has the highest percentage of manufacturing employment of any county in Nevada.

By encouraging needed facilities and support businesses -- such as office space in one case and cardboard-box manufacturing in the other -- Carson City can build on its strengths.

Carson City also has room to attract new industry. Mentioned specifically in the Economic Vitality Strategic Plan is alternative energy.

With geothermal, solar and wind resources in abundance in the region -- think hot-spring spas, sunny days and wind-whipped trees -- Carson City could become a hub for alternative energy industries.

Carson City enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine each year, said Ron Weisinger, executive director of the Northern Nevada Development Authority.

"We could produce energy at reduced costs," Weisinger said. "That would better our energy supply, make it stronger. That would make it easier to attract business to the community."

In other words, building an alternative energy industry has the potential to double the benefits. Not only could it provide primary employment opportunities but it would help attract additional employers.

Companies considering relocating to Nevada, especially those fleeing California's energy woes, want to know if the Silver State has a stable energy supply. Alternative energy could increase that selling point.

"It's a bundle of potential. Now we need to move into it with kinetic energy. It's a great opportunity and if you let it go by, you'll be losing out to surrounding communities," Weisinger said.


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