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EDAWN, NNDA work together

John Seelmeyer

Now that the two economic development agencies in northern Nevada agreed to work together, an equally big question remains: What, exactly, does it mean to work together? Officials of both the Reno-based Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada and the Carson City-based Northern Nevada Development Authority say it probably will take a while for the details to be hammered out.

In the first step, NNDA and EDAWN last week said they’ve reached joint operating agreements covering two functions their work to attract new industry to the region and their efforts to keep existing employers here.

“We don’t mean lip service.We mean real working together,” said Ron Weisinger, executive director of NNDA.

That might mean,Weisinger said, that the two agencies combine marketing dollars to sell northern Nevada to out-of-town companies looking for new locations.

“Businesses don’t see political boundaries,” he said, noting that companies looking at the region often contact both organizations.

Cooperative efforts will streamline the process for the agencies’ customers.

Kirk Clausen, chairman of the EDAWN board, said he expects the two organizations will need some time to compare the ways they do business and discover how they can share their expertise.

One strong possibility, he said, is joint use of the “Business Builders” program rolled out by EDAWN last autumn.

In that program, staff and volunteers contact more than 1,000 companies a year to hear their concerns about the local business environment.

The information they collect is compiled in a software program that tracks existing companies and their needs.

Clausen said the mere fact that the two agencies will be cooperating rather than competing will strengthen them.

“When you have larger numbers, things happen,” Clausen said.

Still to be negotiated,Weisinger said, is a third agreement one which would allow the two agencies to combine their voices when they deal with government.

“We need one unified voice,” he said.

“Working together, it would be a very powerful voice.”

Clausen credited Chuck Alvey, the president and chief executive officer of EDAWN, and Weisinger for overcoming concerns about turf and looking for ways EDAWN and NNDA could cooperate.

“Ron and Chuck deserve so much credit for having the courage to do this,” he said.

Weisinger said NNDA board members were quick to see the potential advantages of the joint operating agreements.

“It wasn’t a hard sale at all,” he said.

Both EDAWN and NNDA are nonprofit agencies funded by private/public partnerships.

EDAWN has represented the Washoe County region while NNDA has focused on Carson City, Douglas and Storey counties and portions of Lyon County.