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UNR steps up its analysis of data from region

John Seelmeyer

Demographic, sales and real estate data assembled by the Small Business Development Center at the University of Nevada, Reno, long has been part of the decision-making process for companies in the region.

Now UNR is gearing up an effort to combine the analytical horsepower of its faculty especially from the College of Business with the fuel of that data to provide better information for policymakers and business owners throughout the region.

The Center for Regional Studies is less than a year old, and its executives have spent much of their time making sales calls on public officials and business executives who might be looking for unbiased analysis.

In recent months, for instance, the center has been involved in a deep analysis of the economic factors that would come into play with efforts to restore Walker Lake in Mineral County.

Another research possibility is a detailed economic and demographic study of the Hispanic market including Hispanic business owners in the region, says Sam Males, director of the Small Business Development Center.

That study, like others the Center for Regional Studies is likely to undertake, involve more than business data and more than faculty members from the College of Business at UNR.

Males said faculty members from fields such as geography, economics, sociology will be called in to provide analysis when it’s needed.

The Small Business Development Center has a 15-year history of assembling demographic and economic data about northern Nevada, much of it material that isn’t available elsewhere.

It can tap into state sale tax returns, for instance, to provide detailed data on retail sales by neighborhood. And it can provide demographic data by individual census blocks.

Brian Bonnenfant, who spearheaded development of those troves of data, notes that they were specifically local during a time when the challenges increasingly are region-wide.

“It became aware to the university that a Center for Regional Studies was needed to serve the entire region, and not just community-by-community,” Bonnenfant says.

The definition of “Regional” in the organization’s title remains open.

A day-long seminar on major real estate development sponsored by the center in March, for instance, included the Eastern Sierra of California in its definition of the region.

Males, meanwhile, thinks it’s likely that the Center for Regional Studies someday will take on the gigantic task of developing databases and providing analysis in southern Nevada.

And some university officials sometimes talk about the region that extends from southern Nevada well into the Pacific Northwest as a single economic and demographic unit.

While the need from business executives and public officials for well-analyzed data is apparent, Males said the center also provides important benefits to faculty members.

They’re generally looking for research subjects that can be translated into academic papers for publication, and the Center for Regional Studies will be a conduit for those subjects.

Males said the center also is expected to draw a pool of graduate students whose research also will deepen the region’s understand of itself.

The center will run on a budget that’s estimated at $280,000 to $350,000 a year. It will be entirely self-sufficient, relying on grants and revenues from businesses and public agencies that buy its data and analysis.

Another research possibility is a detailed economic and demographic study of the Hispanic market including Hispanic business owners in the region, says Sam Males, director of the Small Business Development Center.

That study, like others the Center for Regional Studies is likely to undertake, involve more than business data and more than faculty members from the College of Business at UNR.

Males said faculty members from fields such as geography, economics, sociology will be called in to provide analysis when it’s needed.

The Small Business Development Center has a 15-year history of assembling demographic and economic data about northern Nevada, much of it material that isn’t available elsewhere.

It can tap into state sale tax returns, for instance, to provide detailed data on retail sales by neighborhood. And it can provide demographic data by individual census blocks.

Brian Bonnenfant, who spearheaded development of those troves of data, notes that they were specifically local during a time when the challenges increasingly are region-wide.

“It became aware to the university that a Center for Regional Studies was needed to serve the entire region, and not just community-by-community,” Bonnenfant says.

The definition of “Regional” in the organization’s title remains open.

A day-long seminar on major real estate development sponsored by the center in March, for instance, included the Eastern Sierra of California in its definition of the region.

Males, meanwhile, thinks it’s likely that the Center for Regional Studies someday will take on the gigantic task of developing databases and providing analysis in southern Nevada.

And some university officials sometimes talk about the region that extends from southern Nevada well into the Pacific Northwest as a single economic and demographic unit.

While the need from business executives and public officials for well-analyzed data is apparent, Males said the center also provides important benefits to faculty members.

They’re generally looking for research subjects that can be translated into academic papers for publication, and the Center for Regional Studies will be a conduit for those subjects.

Males said the center also is expected to draw a pool of graduate students whose research also will deepen the region’s understand of itself.

The center will run on a budget that’s estimated at $280,000 to $350,000 a year. It will be entirely self-sufficient, relying on grants and revenues from businesses and public agencies that buy its data and analysis.



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