twenty-eight years ago, the site of the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center east of Sparks was an expanse of dirt: 107,000 acres of it. But Dean Haymore saw potential there. He saw a future for major manufacturing in northern Nevada. And he helped make it happen.
“I knew that the time was coming when we wouldn’t be able to depend on gaming and tourism anymore in Nevada,” Storey County’s building and planning administrator said. “I knew we had land and that we had space to grow. I met with the commissioners and we came up with a plan. And damn if it didn’t work!”
These days he’s busier than he ever dreamed he’d be — approving plans, issuing permits and taking calls from companies that want to locate in that area.
The Tahoe Reno Industrial Center is marketed as the largest industrial park in the world. It’s located just nine miles east of The Biggest Little City in the World. And it will soon be home to the largest manufacturing plant in the world: Tesla’s 5-million square foot Lithium Ion Battery Factory.
That in itself is a dream come true for Storey County. And it’s a huge boon for northern Nevada as a whole. According to the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center has created more than a thousand jobs since January. And, like the center itself, that number is growing.
The hubbub of activity there with construction jobs, build-outs and infrastructure is putting people to work building factories and companies that will put even more people to work. You could say that Tesla’s commitment to the area is moving mountains in terms of business opportunity there.
“We have everything from 1-800 Flowers to 1-800 Diapers,” said TRIC Principal Lance Gilman. “We have an ammunition factory, a diving board manufacturer, Pittsburgh Paints, Zulily and distribution centers for Wal-Mart and Toys-R-Us. And we’re just getting started.”
Storey County Manager Pat Whitten agrees.
“We’ve seen business permits and building permits flying out the door. We’ve streamlined our process. We’ve hired six additional employees to deal with the permitting. And it’s a round-the-clock operation. Say a client has a cement pour at 2 a.m. We make the inspector available as needed so there are no delays.”
“We do have one of the most pro-business counties in the state,” Haymore says. “We are proud to issue building permits in 30 days or less and in some cases you can get a permit and start moving dirt the next day.”
In addition to that convenience, they say the State of Nevada goes the distance to welcome businesses. From the business-friendly tax structure here to the tax incentive programs to the lightning-fast permitting process, Nevada seems to know what businesses are looking for.
There are currently 15,000 acres within the TRIC zoned for industrial use. And Gilman said the lots are moving fast.
“I see manufacturing as a huge part of northern Nevada’s future. And we have the space and the facilities for it. The park includes space for residential zoning and commercial venues too. But I think that manufacturing and data (centers) will be the biggest in the next few years.”
“The economy and prosperity come in spurts,” said Storey County Manager Pat Whitten. “That’s how business grows and as Tesla comes online in 2017 I think we’ll see the number of businesses here double.” Data-related businesses are “going to be huge.”
Earlier this year, Governor Brian Sandoval announced that Switch Data will be expanding to northern Nevada and building a $1 billion data center in the TRIC. Developers say it’s all just a solid foundation for more.
For now, Storey County is building and planning for the future.
According to Storey County, businesses at the TRIC currently employ 4,300 workers. According its most recent audit, that has meant $4.3 million in revenue. When it’s completely built-out the Tesla Gigafactory is expected to add 6,500 employees to that. Other companies are eyeing the TRIC and planning other manufacturing plants there.
The upshot: And construction work is booming.
“We are seeing a tremendous resurgence of construction in Storey County already,” Gilman said. “The Tesla project alone will take 3,000 construction workers. And we are phasing in the work so it will last.”
“I’d have to agree that the construction industry is back,” said Bill Miles of Miles Construction in Carson City. “In fact, we are putting people to work on Tesla, on other projects at the TRIC and on road projects. It’s crazy. There has been an uptick in government projects too like bridges and roads. I see a time in the not too far future when we won’t have enough workers here. So we are already planning ahead.”