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Fine-tuning the future

John Seelmeyer

Armed with $3.5 million in state funding, the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada wants to fine-tune its efforts to recruit new industry to the area and help existing companies grow.

The cornerstone of that effort: Thinking anew about the types of industry that best fit the region socially and environmentally as well as economically.

“We want to be sure that when we’re through, all of us still think this is a great place to live,” said Chuck Alvey, president and chief executive officer of the private, not-forprofit agency.

EDAWN already is on a roll.While the agency’s fiscal year doesn’t end until June 30, preliminary numbers indicate the past 12 months have been its biggest ever for recruiting new jobs and boosting the region’s economy.

But Alvey says EDAWN’s board and executives have been talking for more than a year about improving its focus on target industries and the kinds of jobs they bring.

That’s going to take some deep analysis, almost certainly by a consulting firm that would look at factors ranging from the skills of the region’s workforce to factors in the region’s weather that might benefit one industry or another.

“What do we have here that we should be playing off?”Alvey asked.

From a study of the area’s strengths,weaknesses and opportunities, as well as the competitive threats it faces, EDAWN’s board can begin shaping a new long-term strategic plan.

That plan,Alvey said,will ask a straightforward question: “By 2010, what do we want to say we’ve accomplished?” It’s likely, he said, that a new strategic plan would pay more attention to the creation of high-yield jobs jobs that pay well or add significantly to the region’s economy in other ways.

Some possible target industries, he said, might range from financial back-office operations to companies in logistics and supplychain management to developers and manufacturers of alternative-energy systems.

All of those industries already have a presence in the region ranging from the Harley- Davidson Financial Services office at Carson City to the Ormat operation in Sparks that develops alternative-energy sites.

And it’s likely that quality-of-life concerns in the fast-growing region also will get a closer look as EDAWN plans for the rest of this decade,Alvey said.

That doesn’t mean, however, that EDAWN will turn away prospective new employers who don’t meet the goals of the strategic plan.

“We’re not going to stop doing what we’re doing,”Alvey said.”We look at everyone as either a friend or a potential friend.” The $3.5 million in state money headed toward EDAWN is part of a $10 million economic development package spurred by Gov.

Kenny Guinn during the just-completed legislative session.

The other $6.5 million in the package will be used by the Nevada Development Authority in Las Vegas.

The governor,Alvey said,was convinced to back funding for the economic development effort after hearing of the payback in new jobs created by the two agencies.

The new planning effort for EDAWN, he said, is likely to begin in August and take several months, depending on the depth of the study of potential target industries.