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NNDA executive sees new opportunities for region

Pat Patera

Less than three months after taking on the job of business development manager at Northern Nevada Development Authority, Emil Tudorache says he’s still taking the pulse of the region.

“I’m working on understanding mechanisms in the Capitol City,” he says. “This is the hub.”

He sees economic development opportunities that may not be apparent to local residents, possibly due to the cosmopolitan background he brings to the job.

He’s worked in a variety of industries, including Coca-Cola, Estee Lauder in Europe and a tech firm in Silicon Valley.

“Training in a specific domain is no longer relevant,” says Tudorache. “The new criteria is passion, diligence, energy and vision. A new perspective is welcome.”

But that perspective must dovetail with the NNDA mandates: Retention, expansion and recruitment.

He puts retention top of the list. It’s more expensive to repopulate with new companies than to retain existing employers, he says.

And it rankles when local firms bail.

“We want them to know there is help before they outsource or move to Mexico,” he says. “I want to put the word out that we can help with a business plan or its execution.”

And when it comes to expansion, he says there’s no mechanism in place to let people know of Carson City’s manufacturing capacity.

“We have amazing companies here that are not visible. Most of these companies are in expansion mode. They are growing. We need to let that be known across the nation,” he says.

NNDA combines that with continued promotion of northern Nevada’s quality of life. To build awareness of Nevada’s advantages, NNDA is working with a public relations agency, RKPR of Reno, to devise a campaign to play in California and nationwide.

But Tudorache looks beyond existing manufacturing industries. He thinks outside the box far outside.

“We need to bring in the big names in the fashion industry,” he says. ” They do not trust the Far East outsourcing for quality.”

And if tearing that page from Europe’s fashion capitals employing Les Petite Mains to sew in rural Nevada seems farfetched, how about this idea from Japan?

“I would like to see a high-speed train suspended over the highway from Carson City to Reno,” says Tudorache.

To fund such a futuristic venture, he suggests approaching the private business community. Casino owners, for a start.

He admits the challenge of these forward-looking ideas is to show how they dovetail with NNDA’s mission.

“I want to put things in fifth gear,” says Tudorache. “We get trapped into a small-time routine.”

His enthusiasm isn’t daunted by the current economic downturn. NNDA has greater significance today than when the economy was booming, he says. “We know where the doors are for any business need.”

Tudorache points to half a million square feet of vacant commercial and industrial space and wonders if NNDA can find ways to help struggling companies. One way, he says, would be to provide a secret email or blog channel through which companies could ask for help discretely even anonymously.

And workforce continues to be a problem for area companies.

“Our kids graduate and they leave Nevada,” says Tudorache. “We need to make this place more attractive for the graduates. That’s a huge roadblock to manufacturing. Even existing businesses are afraid new companies coming here will steal their workforce.”