Tech City: Opportunities increase as technology companies set up shop in region
The business community and higher education are celebrating the influx of technology companies to the region.
“It’s really exciting to see companies (like Alchemy) move to our area,” Mike Kazmierski, president and CEO of Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) told the audience during a Sept. 18 welcome press conference for Alchemy, a startup software services and solutions company that recently established its headquarters in the South Meadows area of Reno.
Alchemy is adding technology plus bringing its corporate headquarters to Reno, Kazmierski said. “It’s truly a special day.”
The company, which has a satellite office in Pleasanton, currently has a staff of 35 but expects to double in size every year for the next three years. In five years, they expect to have a staff of 160 in Reno alone.
The average wage for positions in the company is $70,000 a year, Alchemy cofounder and CEO Mike Duffield told the audience at the welcome event.
“We’re a small company of almost 40 people, on our way to doubling and doubling and doubling,” Duffield said. “We’ve got aggressive growth aspirations; aspirations for triple digit growth with folks here locally, but the majority is coming out of the (UNR College) of Business.”
A number of University of Nevada, Reno graduates have already joined the new company. Several attended the press conference.
“Were thrilled with the talent that we’ve been able to interactive with and hire and exchange ideas with, and they’re a fantastic part of the company,” Duffield said of the UNR connections.
The type of jobs Alchemy is adding to the community is an example of what economic development leaders want to see more of. In past years, students with technology degrees were forced to move out of the region to find work in their fields.
A key element of Alchemy’s services is helping institutes of higher education bring their enrollment processes into the 21st century.
“The real irony is the most proficient users of these (smart phone) devices are forced to go through enrolling in classes in such archaic ways,” Duffield said. “(Some) universities and colleges are in the VCR era of enrollment technology.”
Alchemy offers services, tools, expertise, and learning programs that help higher education institutions successfully deploy Workday business applications. Alchemy specializes in Workday Student deployments but also executes other Workday programs.
With its close connections with Workday, which is headquartered in Pleasanton, Calif., Duffield said it would have been easy just to set up the Alchemy headquarters in the same area. He noted several reasons that made Reno a better option.
“You’re extraordinarily friendly. We love being here,” he said.
The business friendly climate and programs to facilitate locating in the area, “made it easy for us.”
He also noted investments in infrastructure, including freeways without the massive traffic jams of the Bay Area, ease of airport access, and the cost of living.
“It’s a significant opportunity of Alchemists to make the salary they’re going to earn to actually buy a house,” he said.
“It doesn’t hurt with the proximity to Lake Tahoe. We’re a work-hard, play-hard company.”
Alchemy’s traits are what community leaders want to see more of.
Kazmierski described the economic climate when he arrived to the community six years ago. He and Gov. Brian Sandoval, who was also in attendance at the welcome event, developed a strategy for economic development that included technology.
“People kind of rolled their eyes, “Kazmierski said. They were unable to imagine technology as an integral part of the economy.
So the state’s economic development programs focused on advanced manufacturing, with robotics and such, to grow the technology base.
“We’re starting to build on that now and continue to see more and more technology growth in this region,” Kazmierski said. “A company like (Alchemy) is just a testament of what’s happening in our Reno-Sparks area, and really a foreshadowing of what our future looks like.
“It’s truly exciting.”
“The thing that I like most about entrepreneurship is I can work toward something that I’m passionate about and be at the forefront of the change that I want to see happen,” said Priyanka Senthil, a senior at Davidson Academy in Reno and co-founder of startup company AUesome.