The common threads

Diverse as they appear on the surface, the six industries to be targeted by economic development executives in northern Nevada share common elements.

For one, they're industries that typically pay well.

For another, they generally don't need the sweeping expanses of industrial real estate that dominate the region today.

And they rely heavily on brainpower, entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and the sorts of support that can be provided by higher education and public research facilities.

The six target industries business and financial services, software, clean energy, advanced manufacturing, advanced logistics and life sciences were recommended by AngelouEconomics, a consulting firm hired by the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.

Here's the thinking behind each:

* Business and financial services: The target here is high-end customer response call centers, corporate treasury operations, and financial operations such as the credit operation run by Harley-Davidson at Carson City, says Chuck Alvey, the president and chief executive officer of EDAWN.

The region has a growing pool of trained workers in the industry and benefits from the growing accounting department at the University of Nevada, Reno.

And the segment doesn't put much stress on the region's infrastructure.

"It's easier to put high-density, high-paying jobs in office space," says Alvey.

* Software: The region's outdoor lifestyle is attractive to the creative young professionals who populate the software industry.

Meanwhile, a center for advanced visualization at the Desert Research Institute may generate spin-off companies.

* Clean energy: "In our surveys, it's the No. 1 thing that people said we should do," says Alvey, noting that support translates into a warm welcome for companies in the industry that establish operations in northern Nevada.

Other regional assets include the research conducted at DRI as well as abundant natural supplies of geothermal, solar and wind energy.

* Advanced manufacturing: This group covers a wide range everything from nanotechnology to the creation of content for publications. The common element, Alvey says, is that the targeted firms would add significant value in the manufacturing process and wouldn't simply hammer out widgets by the million.

* Advanced logistics: Building on a regional strength, the decision to target logistics industries seeks to capitalize on the region's location as a West Coast and international hub. Beyond simple warehousing, segments to be targeted include firms that develop logistics systems as well as companies that assemble and distribute high-end medical equipment.

* Life sciences: While other regions are making a big push in this segment, Alvey says northern Nevada might leverage research at UNR into a strong position in agricultural science. A handful of life-sciences companies Charles River Laboratories, Alere Medical have established a beachhead for the industry here.

The next step development of tactics to begin wooing those industries remains an open question.

Possibilities, Alvey says, range from assigning EDAWN staff members to individual targeted industries to development of community task forces with expertise in the industries.

"We're still analyzing it," he says.

The EDAWN chief notes, too, that targeted industries list doesn't mean the economic development agency will ignore other employers.

Rather, the study is intended to give some direction to EDAWN as it pursues its newly refined mission of creating jobs in the region while preserving its quality of life.


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