RENO, Nev. — Many Northern Nevadans probably figured that
working through the Great Recession would be the most challenging time of their
Then COVID-19 hit. In a few short weeks, the engine
that's powered Northern Nevada's economic resurgence to new heights came to an
abrupt halt. Downtown casinos are shuttered for the first time since the flood
of 1997, and thousands of other businesses throughout the region are dark as
Industries that can are soldiering on, but the months
ahead are fraught with great uncertainty as the endgame of the coronavirus
remains to be seen.
The question, Kazmierski says, is how many of those jobs
will still be there when normalcy returns. EDAWN is looking at ways it can help
reduce unemployment when the region rolls out of the slowdown, he adds.
“Retail, gaming and tourism are basically non-existent
through this crisis, and if it was 10 years ago that would be almost all of our
economy,” Kazmierski said. “We have been able to bring in over 200
manufacturers in the last eight years, as well as grow our e-commerce,
logistics, distribution and technology sectors, and all of those jobs are still
up and running.
“We aren't feeling the brunt of the slowdown like we
project delays possible
Some industries remain largely unaffected by the
coronavirus business shutdown. Mining is still active in northeastern Nevada,
and construction companies continue to build. But that's not to say COVID-19
isn't impacting local builders or the construction industry as a whole.
Matt Clafton, vice president and general manager of
Alston Construction, says it's such a fluid and fast-moving situation that he
is constantly evolving and developing new policies to deal with the
“First and foremost, we are concerned about the wellbeing
of our internal teams, our subcontractors, vendors and suppliers,” Clafton
says. “We are trying to keep those folks working to help them take care of
their families. People in the construction industry rely on coming to work —
that's how they support their families.
“We are making every effort to keep those folks safe and
keep them working for the betterment of the construction community. I just want
to make sure we can help people take care of their families in a safe manner.”
To that end, Alston has published COVID-19 guidelines and created documentation similar to OSHA workplace safety rules, Clafton says.
All told, Alston Construction was scheduled to deliver five buildings totaling 1.36 million square feet at the North Valleys Commerce Center by the fourth quarter, but Clafton says that timeline could be pushed out until early 2021.
Turmoil in the wider financial sector and tremendous
market devaluations could impact development moving forward, meanwhile, as
institutional capital partners tap the brakes on new development to preserve
“I thought that going through the Great Recession would
be the most challenging thing, and this might end up being it,” Clafton says.
Doug Roberts, Nevada/Arizona partner for Panattoni
Development, says the COVID-19 slowdown is more reminiscent of post-9/11 than
the Great Recession in its suddenness and voracity.
Panattoni has jobs throughout the U.S. and has been following low-interaction and social distancing guidelines from cities and municipalities, Roberts says.
Changes include additional sanitation stations and restroom facilities at job sites; quadranting job sites to reduce cross-contact among workers; and conducting individual meetings between site inspectors and supervisors so both parties can adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Construction personnel also are using FaceTime, Zoom and Skype when applicable for meetings and inspections. The inspection process is crucial, Roberts notes, because if the pandemic worsens and building inspectors are forced to stay home, the construction industry by and large will grind to a halt.
Looking ahead, while the construction industry may be powering through the slowdown, there could be some far-reaching impacts in education and workforce development, EDAWN's Kazmierski says.
Although schools are finishing the semester with online
instruction, the slowdown may affect workforce development in technical and
trade programs that require hands-on instruction.
“We will still be successful in bringing in those next-generation jobs, but the slowdown in education could impact our available workforce going forward, and certainly affect some of those programs' ability to generate the talent these companies will need,” Kazmierski says. "Those programs generate a certain level of skilled (worker) that companies can put to work right away, and those companies are still functioning even though we have shut the pipeline down for now.”