Results are coming in

The to-do list for the Reno area's economic future is a couple of months away.

But a key report recommending that the region place greater emphasis on entrepreneurship and technology is clear that shifts in the northern Nevada economy will require far more than mere commitment from the economic developers.

Elementary schools and universities, bankers and individual investors, members of professional organizations, state and local officials even owners of restaurants and bike shops all need to sign on, says the report by AngelouEconomics.

And that raises the question whether folks who have luxuriated in one of the nation's economic success stories of the past few years are willing to remake the regional economy without the motivation of a crisis.

Angelos Angelou, a principal in the consulting firm that's working on the Target2010 study by the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, believes the makeover will happen.

On one hand, Angelou says, the rising cost of living in northern Nevada particularly the sharp increase in housing prices pres-sures the community to develop higher-wage jobs.

At the same time, he says, growing consensus about the need to protect the quality of life in the region also translates into a desire to pay more attention to the development of quality employment.

Both desires, Angelou's firm said last week, depend on the shift of the region's economy to one that relies more on entrepreneurs and uses technology smartly.

Even today, the company said, technology jobs pay an average of $57,769 a year in northern Nevada compared with an aveaage wage of $35,086 across the economy.

But Angelou is quick to note that his company isn't necessarily talking about software developers or computer manufacturers when it calls for an economy that's tech-savvy.

Instead, he says, a technology-based economy is one in which companies across the economy use technology to drive innovation. Think of IGT and the technology in its slots, or Alere Medical and its use of in-home monitors to assist heart patients.

A tech-based economy is likely to be mostly homegrown, AngelouEconomics says, and it recommends that northern Nevada make itself a good home for entrepreneurs.

Some of that, the consultants say, depends on creation of an attractive lifestyle for young entrepreneurs one that involves more bike trails than golf courses and some depends on the availability of bank financing and venture capital for startups.

And it depends on an even-greater focus by EDAWN and other economic development agencies on nurturing new companies instead of wooing existing companies from other states.

"My board is already very committed to entrepreneurship as the way to go," says Chuck Alvey, the president and CEO of EDAWN.

But he says nurturing homegrown companies can be slow and involve plenty of failed companies. "You get deeper roots, you get richer returns, but it takes longer," Alvey says.

As the region moves toward an entrepreneurial and technology-based economy, AngelouEconomics says the region's strengths include a recognition by business and government leaders of the need to make the shift.

But the challenges, the consultants say, are many. The region isn't known as a technology center, it doesn't have much homegrown venture capital, its workforce is weak in technology skills and there isn't a critical mass of a technology community in business, higher education and government.

(The full report it's 45 pages is available at


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