Officials: The Carson region is finally booming
The northern Nevada economy is booming.
“The whole state has been trying to diversify the economy for 30 years, maybe longer, and finally, folks, we’re seeing that happen,” Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell told attendees at Northern Nevada Development Authority’s (NNDA) monthly breakfast at the Carson Nugget Wednesday.
Crowell said nowhere is that more evident than throughout northern Nevada.
In Carson City, building is back, said Crowell.
“I used to get a monthly report from the building department and after my first three years (as mayor) I got tired of seeing zeros,” he said.
Building permits are now at a high not seen in eight years. In the first six months of the fiscal year, valuations totaled $20 million and are on track to double that by the year’s end, Crowell said.
Unemployment has dropped from 15 percent to 5.3 percent and the sales tax is expected to grow 8 percent this year.
“We’re no longer a sleepy part of Nevada,” he said.
Pat Whitten, Storey County manager, agreed.
“We’ve not hit pre-recession days yet, but we’re coming back up,” said Whitten.
Whitten said the county has 1,518 active business licenses and 410 of those were issued in the last year.
That includes 126 businesses at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center, home to Tesla Motors, Switch and Walmart.
TRIC tenants occupy 14.3 million square feet of building space and employ 6,274 employees.
Whitten says part of Storey County’s success is due to the charging the lowest fees among those areas it competes with to attract business, including Reno, Sparks and Fernley.
On a $12 million project in Storey County, building fees total $142,200, lower than all its jurisdictional competitors, he said.
Coming soon are two new hotels, including a Marriott International Inc. property, a truck stop and a food processing company.
Also coming are 3,400 homes, which could triple the county’s population.
“Next thing for us is to streamline permitting,” said Whitten. “Tesla taught us you have to move fast.”
Douglas County is growing, too.
The county has added 60 new businesses and seen its manufacturing base grow 11 percent, said Larry Werner, Douglas County manager.
At Stateline, the Tahoe Beach Club and $100 million Edgewood Tahoe project should add 30 percent to occupancy and 10 percent to retail there.
The Minden-Tahoe Airport is building a new terminal and the Bently Heritage distillery under construction in downtown Minden is expected to be in production by the end of the year.
With growth, though, comes challenges, said Rob Hooper, executive director, NNDA.
That’s why NNDA is as focused on workforce development, workforce housing, industrial space, infrastructure development and other issues as it is on recruiting new businesses, he said.
“The cost of growth is pretty intense. How are we going to organize it? How are we going to juggle it?” Hooper said.
But he’s confident the area will handle it.
“We have great leadership in this region,” said Hooper.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.