The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada’s CEO, Mike Kazmierski, stressed the importance of attracting a large workforce to northern Nevada to prepare for rapid growth in the region at the EDAWN luncheon and economic update held Jan. 14 at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa.
“As we continue to grow and the unemployment rate continues to drop we will eventually run out of qualified workforce,” Kazmierski said in a phone interview with the NNBW prior to the event.
EDAWN forecasts, based on data from the EPIC report, more than 50,000 new jobs will be created in the next five years and the Reno-Sparks population will increase to an estimated 64,700 people.
Northern Nevada needs to attract and train a skilled workforce who can fill the types of jobs that these companies are creating.
In 2015, 50 percent of the companies who relocated to northern Nevada were manufacturing companies, 23 percent were service companies, 9 percent were data centers and 18 percent were distribution companies.
According to Kazmierski, community colleges will be vital in training students for jobs in these fields.
To address the challenge of workforce development, EDAWN is implementing a workforce development plan that focuses on connecting local and new talent to companies, attracting workforce from outside of Reno, training workforce to fill future job demands as well as retaining existing workforce.
And the region is continuing to attract new companies. EDAWN’s statistics show that they had an average of 10 to 11 prospect visits per month in 2015 and in the next few months they will announce several new companies that will bring an estimated 1,155 more jobs to the region.
At the event, EDAWN announced BetterWorld Books is one of these companies that is settling into the region. They will be opening a distribution center in the City of Reno. The company is estimated to bring more than 100 jobs in the first 90 days.
According to Kazmierski, the company does much more than just sells books. The company supports many philanthropic causes that support literacy and education.
One of the other challenges that Kazmierski highlighted in the presentation was school funding in the K-12 education system. Currently funding for the Washoe County School District is capped at $35 million a year but according to WCSD, they need $273 million for new schools and an additional $25 a year for maintenance.
“The last thing we need is to not have adequate funding for our schools,” Kazmierski said. “This is a serious issue with or without rapid growth. The growth is just expediting this issue.”
Kazmierski also gave updates about Tesla, Panasonic and Switch.
Tesla is two months ahead of schedule and already has more than 200 people working at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center facility. 1.5 million square feet of the 10 million-square-foot facility will be operational in 2016 and together, Tesla and Panasonic are on track to hire 6,500 people by 2020.
Switch is currently constructing their 6.4 million-square-foot data center in TRIC. The company is expected to create more than 400 jobs. They are also developing a fiber optic network loop that will connect Reno, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco, which will greatly increase the rate of speed for information among these cities.
The Reno-Sparks community can help prepare the region for this rapid growth by attracting and welcoming talent to the region, supporting downtown revitalization, promoting the region, encouraging and building affordable housing, engaging and supporting UNR and adequately fund school infrastructure.
“It is really a call to action for the community,” Kazmierski said. “It is going to take the help of everyone to address these issues.”