Declaration of collaboration |

Declaration of collaboration

Chuck Alvey

I was inspired by a declaration of “regional cooperation” I came across recently by the greater St. Louis region and thought how it might apply to northern Nevada economic development. I was impressed by how this 12-county region consisting of an urban center, mid-size cities, small towns and rural farmland collectively decided that by acting as one region, they could compete on a national scale to attract business.

Other good examples of regional collaboration can be found in Denver, Colo; Charlotte, N.C.; Houston, Texas and Orlando, Fla.

In my mind I began envisioning what our region’s potential cooperative economic declaration might say:

“Whereas, there are many dedicated leaders in business, government and civic sectors in the greater northern Nevada region who are working to address critical issue facing the region; and

Whereas, the six-counties that call northern Nevada home, Carson City, Churchill, Douglas, Lyon, Storey and Washoe all contribute to the vibrant, evolving regional economy; and

Whereas, the greater northern Nevada region is competing for quality companies and talent with states, regions and globally…”

You get the drift. Might today be the impetus for the greater northern Nevada region to meet the global marketplace challenge head-on as one region to undertake bold initiatives that will attract top companies with high wage jobs and opportunities for our citizens?

National economic development leaders and analysts, including AngelouEconomics, a consultant the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada hired to lead the Target2010 strategic economic planning process for northern Nevada, and which conducted a similar study for our partner Northern Nevada Development Authority, have recommended for a region to compete successfully for business, it needs to think and act as one for the benefit of all.

All of the Target2010 data, analysis and community outreach this past year provides northern Nevada an opportunity to compete globally and nationally for top businesses looking to relocate to the desirable business climate and lifestyle our area offers. Our region is ripe with business success including 35 Fortune 500 companies and nine Top 20 Fortune “America’s Most Admired Companies” doing business here. Our area has topped national rankings as the No. 1 best place for business by Inc. magazine and Chief Executive Magazine.

Northern Nevada has had success in regional economic development when it collaborated on a statewide marketing coalition the past three years to promote the benefits of doing business in Nevada to struggling companies in California. EDAWN, NNDA, Sierra Pacific Power Co., Nevada Commission on Economic Development and the Nevada Development Authority based in Las Vegas were partners in the marketing campaign.

Individually, each of our partner organizations realized that we were limited in our business development and marketing efforts; but together we could pool our resources and make a bigger impact. All partners committed different resources to the marketing program, but all partners reaped equal results from our combined efforts – more than 2,200 news stories about Nevada as a desirable place to do business worth nearly $28 million in media value in the past three years.

Powerful partnerships yield impressive results. As Nevada was successful partnering on a statewide level to promote itself for business, I am optimistic that northern Nevada can and will leverage the resources, assets and leadership offered by our six-county region to position our area as a premiere place for business.

By practicing regional economic development we provide companies with a wide portfolio of opportunities that one community alone can’t offer. Together we can provide a comprehensive tool box that companies can choose from to meet their needs. Skilled workers, educational resources, land, buildings, water resources, access to government officials, permitting assistance, help with finding affordable housing for employees are among the tools in our collective toolbox.

AngelouEconomics told us at the onset of Target2010 that our region is operating from a “position of strength.” We aren’t broken. Our economy is strong and is diversifying. We do have community improvement areas that need to be addressed including workforce development, cultivating an entrepreneurial and technology-based climate that attracts young professionals that want to live and work here, and creating affordable housing for workers. We, as a region, need to address these issues to bridge the gap between the cost of living and average wages.

As AngelouEconomics also points out, we need to create a clear regional brand and geographic identity to those outside of northern Nevada. While companies are familiar with Nevada, they don’t necessarily know our area, and we are often misperceived as being close to or part of Las Vegas. This hurts us when it comes to attracting top companies considering regions to locate their business. The terms that we use to describe ourselves as a region are confusing to those outside of our area:

“Northern Nevada”

“Western Nevada”

“Northwestern Nevada”

Working with our economic development experts at AngelouEconomics to conduct brand focus groups, and solicit input from key regional partners, stakeholders in business, civic and government; our area has an opportunity to develop a regional economic development brand for northern Nevada to promote nationally.

The Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority has been promoting the region nationally for gaming, tourism and recreation and now we, as economic development leaders, have an opportunity to do the same, but for business.

A brand isn’t built overnight and it needs input and support from the entire region. EDAWN is committed to facilitating a community-wide discussion about the recommendations and data that support a regional brand for business. We believe passionately, as do our community partners, that northern Nevada has something to offer quality companies looking for the best place for their business and employees.

Many of those discussions are underway, but will continue in the coming months. We encourage those citizens and businesses in the greater Northern Nevada region to attend the Target2010 Economic Summit, Wednesday, Nov. 29 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Atlantis Casino Resort and voice their input into the branding process.

Together, let’s write our own declaration of how we want to shape our future economic growth and quality of life. Together, let’s ensure northern Nevada is a place we all want to live in years to come.