Outlook improves at Directions

Thanks to Tesla Motors, Apple Inc. and a brightening economy overall, The Chamber’s annual economic outlook event next week will be more like a wedding celebration than a wake.

“For the first time in the last six years or so the story is a good one to tell,” says Jeremy Aguero, principal, Applied Analysis, an economic and policy analyst firm in Las Vegas.

Aguero will be speaking at the conference on the northern Nevada economy, which he says is picking up after years of stagnation.

“Last year all the economic indicators were flat,” says Aguero. “But now housing prices are rising, employment is up, new businesses are coming and existing ones are expanding.”

Mike Kazmierski, president and CEO, Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, says everyone in the Reno-Sparks area needs to think about what comes next.

“I’m going to talk about where this community is going and how everyone can help in this transition to get to the next level,” says Kazmierski. “We’re experiencing phenomenal growth as a region and as a community we need to mitigate the impacts of that growth so it continues to be positive.”

Kazmierski says priorities should include redevelopment of downtown Reno, an update of the area’s branding and image, and finding the money to better fund education, the expected focus of the upcoming legislative session.

“The capital needs here are frightening,” says Kazmierski.

Warren Rapp, business director, Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center, University of Nevada, Reno, will talk about the development of unmanned aerial vehicles, an industry expected to play a key part in northern Nevada’s future economy.

“I’ll talk about the university, how we’ve reached out to industry folks, what we’re doing in research and development and examples of some of the applications,” says Rapp.

Rapp says the application for commercial UAVs or drones include mining, telemedicine and wildlife management.

The school is already talking to several state agencies about applications. The Nevada Department of Transportation, for example, is interested in performing bridge inspections using the unmanned vehicles.

UNR will soon have a fleet of five smaller drones, including ones purchased from Reno manufacturer Drone America.

But Rapp warns that the industry for commercial UAVs here is lagging behind other parts of the world because the Federal Aviation Administration is slow to approve commercial use of drones.

Other speakers at Directions will be Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchinson; former Nevada Congressman Jon Porter, founder, CEO and president, Porter Gordon Silver, a lobbying firm in Washington, D.C.; Greg Yager and

John Ruggieri, both vice presidents with RTKL Associates, a national architectural firm; and Jon

Ralston, political commentator, Ralston Reports, who will provide a preview of the 2015 Nevada Legislature.

The 23rd annual Directions economic forum is Feb. 5 at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino Grande Exposition Hall in Reno.


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