Directions 2016 to look at evolving economy

The Chamber’s 2016 Directions will focus on a wide range of topics facing the rapidly growing northern Nevada economy including the future of Tesla, the challenges that come with rapid growth, the northern Nevada culture and the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center.

The 24th annual economic outlook event will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 28 at the Grand Sierra Resort in the Reno-Tahoe Grand Ballroom.

“Directions is an important event every year but especially this year as we look back at what has been the evolution of northern Nevada,” said Jim McClenahan, the director of corporate outreach for UNR’s College of Business, chairman of 2016 Directions and the past chairman of the board for The Chamber.

The event draws in more than 700 attendees annually.

According to McClenahan, The Chamber focused on getting speakers who are behind the change in the economic landscape such as Mike Kazmierski, president and CEO of EDAWN, who will speak on the challenges associated with the new Reno-Sparks and L. Lance Gillman, principal and director of Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, who will speak about TRIC.

“Last year we talked about all the momentum from companies like Tesla who were settling into the region which was the spark of the growth,” Danny DeLaRosa, chairman of The Chamber, said. “This year we are talking about the engines of change, how these companies that are settling into northern Nevada are growing and taking the growth to the next level.”

Colin Robertson, curator of education at the Nevada Museum of Art, will talk about the changing culture in northern Nevada that is a byproduct of the rapid economic growth.

“Culture is something we don’t talk about a lot but it is the underpinning (in this changing economy),” McClenahan said. “Colin is on the education alliance board, Regional Alliance for Downtown … he really has a pulse on what is going on in Downtown and Midtown.”

Over a short period of time, northern Nevada has undergone tremendous changes and the region will continue to grow.

“The economy is very different than it was three years ago and it will be very different in five years,” McClenahan said.

EDAWN has projected that companies in northern Nevada will add more than 7,000 new jobs in the next five years.

“When you bring in that many people your city is going to change,” McClenahan said.

Tesla is a big part of the new jobs that are coming to the region. Daniel Witt, the business development and policies manager at Tesla, is scheduled to speak at the event.

“We wanted someone from Tesla who could speak to the long-term vision and future of Tesla,” McClenahan said.

Directions also will provide attendees with a chance to network and speak with the 60 to 70 vendors who will be present.

New this year, McClenahan and DeLaRosa will be providing a platform for attendees to give The Chamber input on what the organization should be focusing on in the coming years. They will collect the responses via Twitter and email and The Chamber will consolidate the information and report the findings at the event.

“We get so many members that come from all walks of life … and they all have different perspectives,” DeLaRosa said.

Other speakers scheduled for the event include Shawn Carey, chairman of the Public School Overcrowding and Repair Needs Committee, Chris Howard, the director of the Ozman Center and Dr. Elliott Parker, an economist at the University of Nevada, Reno.

“I want (the attendees) to see that we are really headed into a new northern Nevada,” DeLaRosa said. “Many people are very optimistic about the growth,” and we want to show the business community that the growth is sustainable.

Tickets for 2016 Directions cost $80 for Chamber members, $100 for non-members and $60 for non-profits. Tickets can also be purchased the day of the event at the door for $120. To register in advance, visit


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment