Bruce Gescheider may not be facing South from Reno toward the State Capitol at Carson City while he's installed as chairman of the Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce.
But Gescheider expects to spend much of his one-year term focused on the State Legislature while he does everything he can to ensure that the state's tax and regulatory environment allows businesses in the region to continue healing.
Gescheider, president and co-owner with his wife, Christie, of Moana Nursery, acknowledges that he becomes chairman of the 1,500-member chamber at a difficult time.
"The bulk of the businesses in the chamber are really hurting," he says. Membership in the organization, while growing, has struggled as businesses large and small have closed their doors.
Gescheider worries that Nevada lawmakers intent on raising taxes and fees on businesses to close the state government's budget gap could make matters substantially worse.
Raising taxes and fees at a time that business revenues are falling may strangle more companies, he cautions. Levying a head tax based on the number of employees on a company's payroll is counterproductive in a state that badly needs jobs.
"Of all the things we can do to create jobs, our existing base of businesses is the best source," Gescheider says. "Keeping our area business friendly has to be our focus."
But owners of small businesses, the chamber chairman says, are so busy manning the cash register that they can't find time to effectively represent their interests in the State Capitol.
"The chamber is a very important voice for them," Gescheider says. "Advocacy is really important to the members of the Reno Sparks Chamber."
And its advocacy won't be purely defensive. Gescheider notes that the leadership of the Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce was instrumental in building support for the train trench through downtown Reno.
"Those are the sorts of big, important things that the chamber can lead," he says.
While advocacy and protection of the state's tax and regulatory environment is the new chairman's focus, he say the organization remains valuable through its many other facets that range from networking opportunities to education to Leadership Reno Sparks and its successes in creating new generations of leaders for the region.
Geischeider has served three years on the chamber's board.
He'll be installed during the Annual Chairman's Office Party, which runs from 11 a.m. to 1:30 pm. Thursday at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino's Exposition Hall.
Hosted by radio and television personality Ross Mitchell, the event will include presentation of the Raymond I. Smith Civil Leader Award to Estela Gutierrez of the Washoe County School Board as well as presentation of the chamber's Diplomat of the Year Award.
Comedian Rick E'Elia and comedian-magician Larry Wilson are scheduled to perform.
Tickets are available online at www.renosparkschamber.org/events.