EDAWN meeting: Everyone’s ‘all in’ for Northern Nevada

Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada President and CEO Taylor Adams speaks at the State of the Economy luncheon Feb. 8, 2024 at the Peppermill in Reno.

Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada President and CEO Taylor Adams speaks at the State of the Economy luncheon Feb. 8, 2024 at the Peppermill in Reno. Photo by Jessica Garcia.

Northern Nevada’s economic growth in 2023 wasn’t without its challenges, investors and businesses were reminded at the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada’s annual State of the Economy address.

EDAWN President and CEO Taylor Adams and Brian Gordon, principal of Las-Vegas based economic research firm Applied Analysis, discussed the realities of the region’s gains in the past year on Feb. 8 at the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino.

Gordon’s focus on consumer confidence and economic activity revealed the differences between perceptions and reality consumers have as concerns of a recession creep up again.

Gordon said consumer confidence has “a long way to go” in the current market. The median U.S. household income is $75,000, and people are making more money than they ever have, but they’re still not feeling secure, especially as credit card balances and interest rates are rising.

“The big problem is people feel they should earn $233,000 to feel secure,” he said, more than triple the median income.

In pre-COVID months, the average monthly mortgage payment was about $2,600. Today, Gordon said, that is now about $3,400. And the percentage of those who were once making a full-balance payment on their credit cards has dropped in recent years from about 35% across the nation to about 10% now making minimum monthly payments on their cards, Gordon said.

“All economics is personal,” he said. “It’s different for every one of us. It’s different in Reno, Nevada, and it’s different anywhere on the East Coast and everywhere in between. We all experience different things in our lives and in our businesses.”

In Adams’ presentation, EDAWN spent 2023 actively pursuing new business and investment opportunities.

“At EDAWN, we’re excited about how over the last 12 months, we’re anchored by investments out of Tesla and Redwood Materials,” Adams said. “We’re delighted to say we assisted in the investment of $4.5 billion in our economic growth, and that created just over 5,000 jobs. It’s really been an exciting year for Northern Nevada.”

In business retention, expansion or workforce development, EDAWN helped to garner 143 engagements with primary companies and gave assistance to 126, or 88%, of those businesses. There was also a total capital investment of $52 million in companies, not including Redwood Materials. Redwood’s expansion in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center marked the largest capital investment at $1.1 billion since the establishment of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development in 2011.

“The jobs we’re bringing here offer people the ability to fully live here and enjoy everything that this region has to offer,” Adams said.

Startups were another promising area for EDAWN with 75 total leads, including 24 small and 51 large companies. Fifteen businesses relocated to Northern Nevada, and there were 200 assists.

EDAWN also provided more than 99 prospect visits in 2023 through online inquiries, the development of broker/developer relationships or various travel or tradeshow connections. It also launched its Reno Startup Week that brought 55 speakers, panelists and speakers, 1,200 total attendance, generated $25,000 in cash and prizes to support the event and saw more than 10,000 volunteer hours donated to host the event.

Gordon said everyone is looking forward to this year.

“I think everybody’s all in in terms of what’s happening in Northern Nevada,” Gordon said. “Everybody’s looking to do their part, but we have some challenges along the way. But the reality is, we’ve got folks here today celebrating where we’re headed, and I like our chances in terms of where we’re going.”

Adams shared his optimism, adding EDAWN also recognizes certain realities, like inflation and constraints on the market. He said the region likely will feel lingering effects of the national slowdown, and said it’s important to avoid a repeat of the Great Recession after losing skilled workers in the construction industry who contributed to key growth.

“So what does this mean for us?” Adams asked. “It means at this rate that’s happened, we won’t be able to simply throw a switch and see the economy return to a 2019 output … that we find alternative means to deliver growth in the short term.”

Adams said EDAWN is confident its role in setting the industry standard comes from expanding business opportunities for those seeking quality jobs in Northern Nevada.

“We’re meant to be a regional convener and facilitator, but it’s our job to work within the community’s definition of success,” he said. “So we absolutely welcome the opportunity to bring the community together but also to work with all of our public agencies, our elected officials as well as our community leaders to try to build the definition of success as it relates to our community.”


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