Jobs growth building its momentum

As Capital Glass continues hiring in Carson City, Reno, Elko and elsewhere in northern Nevada to meet the demands of a recovering market, Vice President Keith Larkin says the family-owned glazing contractor sometimes is challenged to find the talent it seeks.

“As we’re ramping up, we’re looking for people who can keep pace with our A players,” says Larkin.

It’s a challenge that increasing numbers of employers in northern Nevada will face in 2014 as the economic rebound puts the region back to work.

And some potentially large employers — hundreds, if not thousands of jobs in one fell swoop — are circling the region in search of sites for new operations.

At last count, the jobless rate stood at 8.2 percent in the Reno-Sparks area — more than a full percentage point lower than a year earlier. The number of people looking for work was 18,000 in November, down by 3,000 from 12 months earlier, says the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

In Carson City, the number of job seekers declined by 300 and the jobless rate slipped to 9.1 percent in November from 9.7 percent a year earlier.

The department’s economists say some of the key drivers of the state’s economy— distribution, tourism, manufacturing and construction — all are beginning to pick up momentum.

And jobs growth in those basic sectors sends ripples across the economy. For every 100 new manufacturing jobs, for instance, the state generates another 250 jobs in fields such as retail, professional services and construction.

“The bottom line is that more jobs equal more disposable income flowing through the economy,” the researchers said in a report this autumn.

Along with that organic growth — the companies that quietly add a couple of jobs here and there — the northern Nevada economy rebound gets a boost from the arrival of new employers.

The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada says it’s working with 15 serious prospects that could bring more than 5,400 jobs to the region.

It’s possible that the region could land as many as 2,500 to 3,000 jobs during the fiscal year that began last July 1, says Mike Kazmierski, the president and chief executive officer of EDAWN.

Some of those jobs will represent back-office jobs moving from California.

“We’re pushing that we are a suburb of the Bay Area,” says Kazmierski.

Distribution operations will continue to be important new employers in the area, the EDAWN executive says, along with sophisticated manufacturing operations.

Low-pay manufacturing jobs have moved offshore, Kazmierski notes, but advanced manufacturing employers are growing in importance in the region.

Activity has slowed a bit in recent months at Northern Nevada Development Authority, the Carson City economic development organization focused on Storey, Lyon, Churchill and Douglas counties and Carson City.

Danny Campos, vice president of business development, says the slowdown is partially a reflection of NNDA’s successes in attracting new employers during 2011 and 2013. They leased up most of the available industrial space.

“We just don’t have that 20,000-square-foot opportunity sitting out there, ready to go,” Campos says.

Some potential new companies are talking about build-to-suit facilities, he says, and developers are penciling out speculative construction projects to meet future demands.

Also slowing the flow of companies into northern Nevada is concern about a proposed margins tax that’s headed for voters this year. Businesses with more than $1 million in gross revenue would face a 2 percent tax levy on 70 percent of their total revenue or a tax of 2 percent of their total revenues, minus cost of sales and payroll.

“That’s huuuuuuuuge,” says Campos.

The tax, which is on the November ballot, creates uncertainty in the minds of business managers. At the very least, Campos says, businesses considering a move to Nevada may be delaying their decisions until the dust settles.


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