| nnbw.com

Number of Nevada jobless claims soars to 245,000; U.S. total nears 17 million

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Nearly 245,000 people have filed for unemployment in Nevada since casinos and other businesses closed in mid-March, according to U.S. Department of Labor figures published Thursday morning.

The tally for the week ending April 4 in the Silver State was almost 80,000 new jobless filings.

Last week, Gov. Steve Sisolak and Nevada labor officials acknowledged the state jobless office was overwhelmed by the record 93,000 claims filed the week ending March 21, after the governor ordered non-essential businesses — which includes all casinos — closed.

Another 71,400 Nevadans filed for unemployment the following week ending March 28.

On Wednesday, the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation said it has “nearly tripled staff,” going from nearly 75 employees to more than 200 to handle the soaring unemployment insurance claims.

The agency continues to look at options for additional hires to support the program in the coming weeks, according to a press release from DETR.

According to the state, phone volumes to the unemployment insurance call centers for support are up to 90 times higher than normal when compared to calls before March 15.

Due to that volume, the state is urging residents to apply for unemployment through the online portal at http://ui.nv.gov/css.html.

From a national perspective, the U.S. Department of Labor report from Thursday morning indicates a staggering 16.8 million Americans have filed for unemployment the past 3 weeks.

The numbers showed that 6.6 million American workers applied for unemployment benefits last week, on top of more than 10 million in the two weeks before that.

That means more than 1 in 10 U.S. workers have been forced out of a job since the crisis took hold, the biggest, fastest pileup of job losses since record-keeping began in 1948.

NNBW Support Your Local Business Sweepstakes profile: CoAuto

EDITOR’S NOTE: On April 7, the NNBW launched the “Support Your Local Business Sweepstakes” as a way to support local businesses in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the Sweepstakes in April and May, we’ll be featuring each of our business partners in a special Q-and-A. Today, we profile Reno’s CoAuto.

NNBW: Tell us about your business and some of the most important services you provide?

Answer: CoAuto has established a reputation as the go-to, community-based auto repair shop in Reno, Nevada, providing the community with exceptional auto repair/maintenance and five amazing community programs:

  1. Car Care clinics
  2. High School Internships
  3. Local Art Display
  4. Annual Veterans Car Giveaway
  5. Arbor Day Partnership — planting trees with every oil service we perform.

Some of our main services are: Oil Services, Diagnostics, 30-60-90k. Mile services, maintenance, engine repairs, tires, brakes, alignments, programming, fluid exchanges, etc. Nationally and locally awarded for our outstanding customer service, exquisite waiting room and our unique approach to auto repair.

NNBW: What are some of the key things your business does to ensure premium levels of customer service?

Answer: Concierge service, where we pick up and drop off your vehicle to your home; drop-box options for drop-off and pick-up; contactless service — throughout the repair process, we can operate with zero human contact; Lyft rides home; high standards for client and staff safety through the COVID-19 pandemic; 36-month/36,000-mile nationwide warranty; 1-year free roadside assistance w/any service; quality control process; clean and friendly staff; Reno’s first ASE-certified Blue Seal Shop; multiple ASE Master technicians; consistent continuing education; Local Art Gallery, including murals painted throughout the building (inside and out); and we are community-oriented.

NNBW: What makes Northern Nevada such a great place to own and operate a business?

Answer: The people and the community in Reno/Tahoe are like a big family. The Nevada laws are beneficial for the small business owner. Not to mention, we are situated near mountains, lakes, rivers and deserts, and we are close enough to the sea that no matter your outdoor recreation desires, there is something here for you.

NNBW: As a local business owner, why do you feel it’s important to give back to the community?

Answer: Simple — the community is our support line, and without their support, we wouldn’t have clients to take care of. We would be nothing without the people we serve. We fully believe if we give from the heart to our community, then in return our community will return the love. As owners, both Vinnie and Anthony are separately involved in different organizations, such as The Reno Rotary Club, Toastmasters, WIN, BNI, Gratis Gives and others. Being involved is the best way to know what’s happening in your community.

NNBW: What are you doing to support other local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Answer: Everything we can; our staff is offered lunch if they wish, and we place an order with a new restaurant everyday. Here is a list of some of the local businesses we have supported recently: Great Full Gardens, Squeeze In, Hub Coffee Roasters, The Cheese Board, Rubicon Deli, Factory Motor Parts, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Napa Auto Parts, Heritage Bank, Plumas Bank, A1 Chemical, Aramark, Eighty8 Studios, Crossover Communications, Driveline & Gear Service, Lithia Chrysler Jeep, Reno Toyota, Jones West Ford, American Tire Distributors, Tire Rack, Milne Towing, All Points Towing, BG Products, Liberty Collision, Hunt N’ Sons, and 4 Wheel Parts.

Twenty Under 40 Q-and-A: Washoe County School District’s Emily Ellison

RENO, Nev. — In November, the Reno-Tahoe Young Professionals Network announced the winners of its annual Twenty Under 40 Awards.

We at the NNBW feel it’s important for people of all ages, background and professions to have a voice about the current state of business in Northern Nevada.

With the region’s economic future in mind, NNBW Reporter Kaleb M. Roedel is conducting a Q-and-A with each of the 2019 winners; interviews will be published throughout the year. Go to renotahoeypn.com to learn more about Reno-Tahoe YPN. Read this week’s Q-and-A below:

Q: What do you see as the top one or two biggest economic development opportunities for Northern Nevada in 2020 and beyond?

Emily Ellison: I guess what first comes to mind for me is an opportunity and a challenge. I think the workforce is a huge opportunity and challenge, not only for the private sector but also for the public sector, as well, particularly in education. It’s very competitive right now. And so, we work on a fixed funding model, which doesn’t give us a lot of altitude in terms of compensation to attract new employees. Whatever we as a collective can do to continue telling the story of why this a great place to live and a great place to work, I think we’ll really help support our overall economy and our community.

Q: Why is it important for younger professionals to have a seat at the table when it comes to the business community in Northern Nevada?

Ellison: If I’ve learned anything in my work here at the district, it’s the importance of a stakeholder’s voice. There are so many generations in the workforce now, and we have such a diverse community, that in order to really try to meet people’s needs you have to understand where they’re coming from because we have such diverse perspectives now. I’m not naive to think we’ll be able to make everyone happy. I think that’s an impossible task, but I think having young professionals at the table, having minorities at the table, having experienced professionals at the table is all part of getting a broad base of perspectives to make the best-informed decisions for whatever it is we’re trying to accomplish.

Q: What emerging industry or industries have the biggest opportunity for growth in Northern Nevada?

Ellison: I think our state’s done a nice job of laying out target industries and in-demand professions. To me, it seems like those really capture where our national economy and global economy is headed. And I am of course pleased to see education represented there, as well, because I think that’s just really a cornerstone to our state’s success in positioning ourselves for the future.

Q: Where do you see the greater Reno-Sparks region in five years?

Ellison: That’s an exciting question, right? There’s a lot of talk right now around the ever-increasing economy and is there a stopping point at some point or is there a recession on the horizon? I think one of the things that I most hope for our community is that, if we do start to see some kind of economic decline, that we don’t experience it in the same way that we did during the last recession — obviously, we felt a significant impact from that. So, I hope that we don’t have that same kind of dramatic experience we had before.

I think there’s a lot of really exciting advocacy work and social justice work happening right now. There are some really important social issues that are at the forefront for our community and our state: mental health and providing adequate mental health services; homelessness is a huge challenge for us; obviously, education is critically important. I feel like where we may have stagnated in the past in terms of ‘what do we do about these things and how do we address them?’, there’s more and more momentum then there has been before around doing something instead of just talking about and seeing if it works and taking some action. I hope that in the next five years we really lead the way in innovative solutions to those kinds of problems because I think we really have nowhere to go but up when it comes to a few of those really critical issues.

Q: If you could change one thing for the better about your community, what would it be?

Ellison: I think it piggybacks on what I was saying before around more conversations and more action. I would love to see more and more people having a voice, having a place at the table, making a place for themselves at the table, and really seeing that grassroots effort expand. I think people helping people is where all the good stuff happens. Whatever a person’s passion is, get around it and get out there and make change happen. Because I don’t know that we can rely on others to make it happen for us, we have to help lead that initiative. I’d love to see Nevada become that place, and see our community become that place, where people are really invested in our community and invested in the outcomes and taking care of each other.

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Sisolak expands shutdown to include religious gatherings, golf courses

As holy week approaches  — Passover began Wednesday night and Easter is this Sunday — the celebration of those holidays will look different this year.

Gov. Steve Sisolak has already limited public gatherings of 10 or more people, but as the holidays near, his latest emergency directive makes it clear places of worship should not be planning in-person services.

Drive-in and pop-up services also are prohibited during the duration of the state’s emergency declaration.

Sisolak, a devout Catholic who has been watching virtual mass each day, said he consulted with nearly 20 religious leaders, all of whom agreed with the directive.

“This wasn’t easy,” he said. “In these trying times, I’ve clung to my faith to guide me.”

The catch-all directive, announced Wednesday evening during a news conference in Las Vegas, goes on to tighten a number of other restrictions.

Golf courses, a carveout in earlier orders, will now be forced to close. Previously, Sisolak had lumped golf courses into the same category as hiking trails, saying they’re outdoor recreation areas where people could maintain the recommended six-feet social-distancing guidelines.


READ THE ORDER: Go here to read the updated order issued Wednesday evening by Gov. Steve Sisolak.


But the governor never ruled out enacting stricter measures. On Monday, Sisolak said the state might “tighten the faucet” if people didn’t heed social-distancing recommendations.

The Nevada Golf Alliance issued a statement Tuesday calling on golfers and facilities to follow social-distancing policies, such as wiping down golf carts after each use and limiting it to one person per golf cart. Other states already had shut down public and private golf courses, and the 2020 Masters Tournament, scheduled for April 9-12, was postponed.

Sisiolak said his decision to close golf courses as well as public basketball courts, tennis courts and swimming pools came after he received photos depicting people not following social-distancing protocols.

“They were not riding one in a cart. They were congregating on the greens, and I cannot take the chance to have it get spread that way,” he said. “We tried it. It didn’t work because some folks, again, chose not to follow the rules.”

People caught violating the order could be subject to civil and criminal penalties, he said.

The directive — the 13th issued so far — also provides new guidelines for grocery stores, including a ban on self-serve items such as salad bars or whole-sale dry foods like nuts. Grocery chains have come under increased scrutiny over the past week as potential hotbeds for coronavirus infections, especially as the number of sickened store workers has begun to tick up nationwide. 

Additionally, the directive bans real-estate agents from holding open houses, forbids barbers and hair stylists from providing in-home services and forces showrooms displaying goods for sale — such as cars and furniture — to close. The governor called these extra restrictions “common sense” steps to curb the spread of the virus.

“I haven’t had a hair cut in six weeks,” Sisolak said. “I’ve adjusted. The first lady is sticking by my side. We can do this.”

The directive makes no mention of the construction industry, however, which has been criticized by state health and safety regulators for failing to adhere to social-distancing guidelines. Sisolak said his office continues to review the continued operation of construction, mining and manufacturing industries, but added that “it’s what’s going to help us get through this economy.”

“Right now I’ve got a quarter of a million people that file for unemployment,” Sisolak said. “I don’t want another 100,000 or more filing for unemployment, if I can avoid it.”

Unemployment claims in Nevada have skyrocketed amid the pandemic, with more than 71,000 new claims filed last week alone

The governor also said the state would look to iron out issues in the delivery of COVID-19-related data that have created frequent, often wide differences between the number of cases reported by individual counties and by the state. 

Sisolak said those delays have made it difficult for the state to accurately model key measures, including the number of deaths. That includes an issue where no deaths were reported over the weekend, but 12 deaths were reported by Monday — leading to a brief scramble by the governor’s office to find when and where the surge in deaths took place. 

As of Wednesday afternoon, 2,318 coronavirus cases have been reported in Nevada along with 81 deaths since the first death on March 16.

Sisolak did not put a target date on when he might begin to ease social distancing restrictions, saying instead that he was watching trends in key data points, including hospitalizations, intensive care hospitalizations, ventilator use and deaths. 

As the number of coronavirus cases and deaths grows, Sisolak offered one positive update, saying 475 Nevadans had signed up for the Battle Born Medical Corps. The volunteer-led group, which will expand the state’s health care workforce, includes dentists, psychiatrists, nurses, EMTS and paramedics.

“Now more than ever, we look to the helpers to lead us through this crisis,” he said. “These are our helpers, and I’m so pleased to see so many of them lining up to serve Nevada.”

Lyon County officials: So far, so good amid stay-at-home orders

DAYTON, Nev. — Conditions in Lyon County these days seem to be generally quiet, if monotonous, particularly in Commissioner Ken Gray’s district covering Dayton.

The county had made about 6,000 calls the week of March 25 checking on residents and there was a common need for most residents in that outreach.

“The number one concern was toilet paper and people getting their hands on paper products,” he said. “Nobody’s worried about food. Another concern we heard multiple times were people falling behind on their mortgage or rent payments.

“We just came up on the first or second of the month, and they’re worried they may not have it next week or next month.”

County officials continue to encourage residents to abide by Gov. Steve Sisolak’s stay-at-home orders that have been extended through April 30 due to COVID-19.

Lyon County’s rural communities are doing so, but according to Shayla Holmes, the county’s Human Services director, most requests that come into the county for now are financial with most locals concerned about unemployment or evictions.

“We’re still working with people to help them make smart decisions with money they still have available,” she said. “They’re having to consistently navigate the different waters. We are still seeing increased levels of stress.”

Dr. Robin Titus, serving South Lyon Medical Center as director of Long Term Care, reported there has been an increase in domestic violence cases in the hospital’s emergency room.

“Of course, folks are concerned about the virus and possible exposure,” she said, noting she and her staff had met by teleconference with the Northern Nevada Behavior Health Care Policy Board to ensure proper policies and procedures were in place for social distancing and stay-at-home as needed.

Titus said the medical personnel among the Quad County Health District (Carson, Douglas, Storey and Lyon counties) are working well as new cases are discovered and the information changes daily.

Law enforcement has reintroduced familiar programs, but otherwise, county Sheriff Frank Hunewill said he has seen community support for his department in the midst of COVID-19.

The Forensic Assessment Services Triage Team program, originally started in 2015, in the Lyon County Jail provides services for behavioral health, substance abuse treatment and pretrial and supportive programs was halted briefly in the jail but has since resumed.

The Mobile Outreach Safety Team continues to receive as many referrals prior to COVID-19.

“We had to manage our people in there; we had an infected person in there,” he said. “My fear is those calls are going to go up, but we haven’t seen it yet.”

Dispatch also remains current on hotline information and there have been no significant increases to domestic violence calls or other typical responses for deputies, he added, though restrictions for citizens are becoming more stringent.

“I haven’t seen any paranoia, but time will tell,” he said.

He said the department also is taking its precautions and is getting caught up on its personal protection equipment.

“We’ve got a lot of community support … but we’re in a waiting game,” he said.

Those same restrictions Hunewill mentioned are some of the major concerns many in the county are hoping to be lifted soon, Holmes said.

“Things are starting to shift to what the expectation to the new normal is, and most people are convinced it’s going to (extend) past April or the end of summer,” she said. “We’ll see what new things transpire and how it unfolds. … Our biggest goal is to get them to the right contacts.”

Holmes said seniors frequently call the county asking for daily supplies, and the county has been partnering with local nonprofits and churches to obtain dry goods, toilet paper.

“We’ve seen it during fires that the community just shows up,” she said. “They do have this amazing spirit when there’s a time of need. … We see a lot of people staying home, which is what we want. We have other communities where people aren’t doing that at all, and it’s like, ‘Why are you (hanging out) in the Family Dollar right now? Go home.’ ”

Though its physical offices are currently closed to the public, Holmes said the county does provide the phone numbers, fax or e-mail to the Nevada Division of Welfare and Supportive Services as another resource to the public for those who are in need of other mental health or supplemental nutrition services.

“We’re functioning in such different ways and we’ve had to shift the ways we do things to help everyone,” she said.

While the change is still making a difference, the officials observed local residents are still doing well overall.

“Unfortunately, we will always have viruses,” Titus said. “We need to learn from this and not shut down our country.

“I graduated from medical school in 1981,” she added. “I never thought that in 2020 we would still be telling folks to wash your hands.”

Gray encouraged constituents to do what they can to take a few minutes a day to be productive and look out for each other in simple ways.

“Looking out for each other is good,” he said. “Keep your social distance and we’ll all get through this.”

Reno-Sparks median price hits record $415K in March, but how long will it last?

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was updated Thursday morning to include comments and statistics from the National Association of Realtors.

The original story from Wednesday afternoon is below.

RENO, Nev. — Since the Great Recession, the real estate market in Northern Nevada has grown strong and steady. Thanks to a booming economy and swelling population, housing prices and demand have surged across greater Reno-Sparks over the last decade.

As the first quarter of 2020 wound to a close, however, the COVID-19 pandemic had shut down the state’s non-essential businesses, left many area residents jobless, and forced Nevadans to stay quarantined at home.

In other words, like nearly every sector of the Silver State’s economy, the COVID-19 crisis could threaten to put the housing market on shaky ground.

The size of the impacts and when they’ll emerge, however, is yet to be determined, according to real estate industry leaders who spoke with the NNBW.

Erika Lamb, president of the Reno/Sparks Association of Realtors, said the “market is holding steady” despite the pandemic.

“Even though the coronavirus is here, there are still properties that are selling,” Lamb said. “We’re still filling houses. More than ever, people want to get into their own house. If they are quarantined, they want to be quarantined in a place they want to be.”

Erika Lamb is 2020 president of the Reno/Sparks Association of Realtors.
Courtesy photo

According to an April 8 report from RSAR, the greater Reno-Sparks region (which includes North Valleys and Spanish Springs) had 502 sales of existing single-family homes in March — a 10% increase from February and nearly a 10% jump from March 2019.

The median sales price for an existing single-family home in March was $415,000, which was not only a 12.5% increase from last year, but also a record-high, Lamb said.

“Inventory may eventually be reduced as some sellers choose to wait until a time when they feel more comfortable with relocating,” Lamb told the NNBW. “We’ve not seen any indication of prices coming down, just the opposite. It could be due to low inventory.”


READ THE REPORT: Go here to read RSAR’s full March 2020 report, which includes more information and graphs about inventory, days-to-sold and other statistics.


Breaking it down by region, when looking only at Reno (which includes sales in the North Valleys), the median price in March was $430,000 — a 6 percent increase from February ($405,373) and a 10 percent increase from March 2019.

In Sparks (including Spanish Springs), the median home price was $389,000, an increase of 11 percent from last year and up 5 percent from the previous month.

Also, Fernley posted a median price of $278,000, up 7 percent from March 2019 and up 1 percent from February 2020.

This graph shows number of units sold in March 2020 for the greater Reno-Sparks region. Go to to rsar.net/reno-sparks-market-reports to access the March report from RSAR.
Courtesy RSAR


Nancy Fennell, CEO of Dickson Realty, said they have seen “a few” sellers remove their listings, but “not many.”

Over the last few weeks, though, Fennell said she’s been dealing with more and more current and future homeowners worried about selling and buying their homes during this uncertain time.

“We are being asked frequently, ‘Should we put our home on the market as we planned to?’” Fennell said. “Our answer to that is they have to evaluate their circumstances, their health and their needs.

“I do believe as the numbers spike more cases in Washoe County, we will see more sellers and more buyers taking a break. Some buyers are seeing this as an opportunity to reset their offers.”

Nancy Fennell is CEO/Broker of Dickson Realty in Reno.
Courtesy photo

In the greater Carson City-Sierra region, 46% of buyers who were looking to purchase before the crisis are still actively searching for homes, according to a recent survey of 55 Realtors conducted by Sierra Nevada Realtors.

SNAR says another 46% have paused their home search, with plans to start again when the crisis is over. Meanwhile, 8% have decided not to buy at all.

Zooming out, the national housing market is beginning to see the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a new report from Realtor.com, in the weeks ending March 21 and March 28, the number of newly listed properties fell by 13% and 34%, respectively, when compared with the same period a year ago.

The decline may indicate home sellers are holding off on listing their properties right now.

In the report, Danielle Hale, a chief economist with Realtor.com, said: “Our inventory and listing data can provide some early insight into how housing markets may be impacted by COVID-19, but the situation and reactions to it are still rapidly evolving.”

Meanwhile, this week the National Association of Realtors conducted a survey that indicates while a spring slowdown in home sales is expected, a majority of Realtors believe buyers and sellers will return to the market as delayed transactions following the end of the health crisis.

According to an April 9 press release from NAR, 59% of those surveyed said buyers are delaying home purchases for a couple of months, while a similar share of members, 57%, said sellers are delaying home sales for a couple of months.

“Home sales will decline this spring season because of unique economic and social consequences resulting from the coronavirus outbreak, but much of the activity looks to reappear later in the year,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in the release. “Home prices will remain stable because of a pandemic-induced reduction in inventory coupled with less immediate concerns over foreclosures.”

The survey also reports that 72% of Realtors said sellers have not reduced prices to attract buyers. Conversely, 63% said buyers are expecting a decline in home prices as buyers sense less competition in the current environment.


The most significant impact of the pandemic so far across greater Reno-Sparks, Lamb said, is the change in how real estate business is being done.

After all, with Nevadans quarantined until at least May and coronavirus cases continuing to rise, Realtors and agents are relying on technology more than ever to serve clients, offering virtual tours and live-streaming open houses.

As of April 8, Lamb noted there are 457 active listings in the Reno-Sparks area providing virtual tours to potential buyers. She added that RSAR is encouraging more Realtors to do virtual tours versus in-person appointments.

“A buyer can pretty much purchase a home today without ever leaving their living room,” said Lamb, noting that all Realtors are following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines if showings are done in person. “RSAR also just placed an order for face masks that we will distribute to our members to use in the event of in-person showings, and booties and gloves and masks are being provided for buyers when entering a house.”

According to the aforementioned NAR survey, in regard to technology, most members surveyed said the most common technology tools used to interact with clients are e-signatures, social media, messaging apps and virtual tours.


For Melissa Molyneaux, senior vice president with Colliers International, who works exclusively on office properties, the inability to meet in person amid the pandemic is “making deals difficult.”

Melissa Molyneaux is a senior vice president with Colliers International.
Courtesy photo

“Mostly,” she continued, “it’s from the inability to tour spaces and deploy resources — contractors, architects, designers, furniture, etc. — that are not possible virtually.”

Molyneaux noted that most deals “in process and far enough along” are still in motion. Moreover, she has not had any sellers pull their properties.

However, she expects the market to start stalling in the coming months.

“I anticipate the true slow-down will be felt in May and June as the velocity of new deals catches up to us,” she said. “I think the hardest part is that until we know when workers can return to offices, firms may be hesitant to relocate or expand.”

In terms of pricing, Molyneaux believes tenants will have the “upper hand” in negotiations, either through favorable rent, concessions or tenant improvement allowance until “the world returns to business as usual.”

The impact on inventory, she said, is harder to predict.

“I would imagine that as all firms evaluate how to save costs, the layout of square footage of their office space will be taken into consideration,” she said. “But, at this point, I think most are hoping that they can return to their offices once things return to normal.”

RSAR obtains its information from the Northern Nevada Regional Multiple Listing Service (http://www.nnrmls.com). Go to to rsar.net/reno-sparks-market-reports to learn more and access previous reports.

NNBW Editor Kevin MacMillan contributed to this report.

Reno, Sparks, Washoe Co. field over 350 complaints of businesses staying open

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Tuesday morning, April 7, the city of Reno sent the following notice to businesses in the city, which includes information about economic relief programs available to companies; details on enforcement of closure mandates; and more surrounding business impacts amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The notice indicates that of Tuesday morning, Washoe County and the cities of Reno and Sparks collectively received more than 350 complaints “regarding non-essential businesses.”

The notice is published in full below, including all relevant links:

Dear Business Community,

As a part of our efforts to continue to communicate with you during this public health emergency, we wanted to share the following information and resources.

Operational Guidelines for Essential Businesses

As a resource for the safe operation of essential businesses, this document has been assembled in a one-page sheet that can be referenced and posted at business establishments. A large format version is also available.

Please refer to the COVID-19 Business Operations Guide for more information about whether your business is considered essential or non-essential under the emergency regulations. As a reminder, non-essential closures have been extended until at least April 30, 2020, per the order of Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak.

Economic Relief Programs for Businesses

The recently passed CARES Act and a number of additional initiatives have established relief and assistance programs intended to help businesses and employees during this difficult time.

We have summarized the major programs and initiatives in the COVID-19: Economic Relief Programs for Businesses and Employees document.

Enforcement of Business Mandates

Washoe County and the cities of Reno and Sparks have collectively received more than 350 complaints regarding non-essential businesses remaining open despite Governor Sisolak’s directive to close.

Each entities’ compliance staff is investigating the reports and giving initial courtesy notices and informational guidance packets to non-compliant businesses as covered in the COVID-19 Business Operations Guide.

If businesses still refuse to close, law enforcement will be notified, which may result in citations, fines, and possible revocation of business licenses.

Through the end of last week, no citations have been issued and we want to thank the business community for its cooperation and leadership during this unprecedented time.

Business License Renewals and Payments

Washoe County and the cities of Reno and Sparks operate an online permitting and licensing portal that should accommodate most renewals and payments that might be necessary for businesses in our community during this time.

Governor Sisolak’s directive extending the period in which to renew locally-issued permits and licenses applies only in those cases where a reduction in government services makes such renewal or payment impracticable or impossible; in those cases, the local jurisdictions request that you contact the relevant agency to discuss the matter as soon as may be practical.

The City of Reno has provided a 30-day extension of deadlines for renewals (details can be found at Reno.Gov/COVID19), and all agencies are working directly with businesses and individuals on a case by case basis depending on need.

Businesses are requested to contact the appropriate jurisdiction for more information

Contact Information

For business questions or to report non-compliant businesses, please contact:

City of Reno: To file a complaint, contact Reno Direct at 775-334-INFO (4636) or email RenoDirect@Reno.gov. For other business questions, contact 775-334-2090 or email businesslic@reno.gov.

City of Sparks: Call 775-353-5555 or email business@cityofsparks.us.

Washoe County: Dial 3-1-1 or 775-328-2003 or email Washoe311@washoecounty.us.

NNBW Support Your Local Business Sweepstakes profile: Platinum Wealth Management

EDITOR’S NOTE: On April 7, the NNBW launched the “Support Your Local Business Sweepstakes” as a way to support local businesses in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the Sweepstakes in April and May, we’ll be featuring each of our business partners in a special Q-and-A. Today, we profile Reno’s Platinum Wealth Management.

NNBW: Tell us about your business and some of the most important services you provide?

Answer: The top priority and true honor at Platinum Wealth Management is helping our clients. We are a woman-owned and women-led local business that works with you to build a long-term financial plan that can adapt for your unique life situations and whatever gets in your way. Emmy nominated journalist Jennifer Rogers Markwell changed gears in her television career when she realized the need to help women and their finances. It started at home for Jennifer after her grandfather passed away and she wanted to help her grandmother make sense of investing. Her financial pedigree includes formerly being key financial advisor to more than $300 million under management.

NNBW: What are some of the key things your business does to ensure premium levels of customer service?

Answer: As a concierge wealth management company, Platinum Wealth offers personalized, hands-on service. We consistently lead with financial planning while educating our clients to take the mystery out of investing, insurance, estate conservation and preserving wealth.

NNBW: What makes Northern Nevada such a great place to own and operate a business?

Answer: We are honored to call Reno/Tahoe home. Living here and supporting our neighbors in local business is a true honor.

NNBW: As a local business owner, why do you feel it’s important to give back to the community?

Answer: It’s home. Let’s work together to make it even better. That’s why Jennifer Rogers Markwell regularly hosts free educational workshops to empower women to take charge of their investments. She also volunteers extensively in the Reno/Tahoe community with Girls on the Run and currently serves as VP for Girls Scouts of the Sierra Nevada board.

NNBW: What are you doing to support other local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Answer: Ordering curbside/delivery at restaurants and buying gift cards for future use. Supporting local wherever possible!

Survey: Prior to pandemic, Nevada’s small businesses were bullish on 2020

RENO, Nev. — It may feel like ages ago, but back in January, before the global coronavirus crisis hit the U.S. coasts and spread into Nevada, small business owners across the Silver State were bullish on this year’s local and national economic outlook.

That’s according to Nevada State Bank’s seventh annual small business survey, which was conducted by Las Vegas research firm Applied Analysis in January.

For the survey, NSB canvassed more than 400 small businesses in Nevada with annual sales ranging from $250,000 to $10 million.

“It’s a useful tool for them just to take the temperature of where their business is,” Rick Thomas, executive VP/Northern Nevada executive of Nevada State Bank, said of the survey. “And try to incorporate it into their future business decisions, whether it may be an expansion or adding more employees.

“Obviously, the mandatory business closures due to COVID-19 are causing some hardships,” he continued. “I think our economy still shows a lot of promise — I think once we get through this, that will present itself again.”

Back in January, on the heels of a robust 2019, the majority of the state’s small business owners (76%) felt the national economy was headed in the right direction, according to the survey. What’s more, about 82% believed Nevada’s economy is following suit.

After all, in the past 12 months, a shade over half (50.5%) of the 400 respondents increased their revenues, and nearly half (48.3%) increased their profitability.

Zooming in on Northern Nevada, Thomas said 51% of small businesses in Washoe and Carson City counties saw an increase in revenues while 37% saw no change in revenue.

In addition, he said, more than two-thirds (69.6%) of Washoe-Carson small companies felt the business environment had gotten better over the past 12 months.

“I think the diversification and some of the growth in tech and manufacturing, gaming win had returned to good levels, and all that is just showing strength across the overall Northern Nevada economy,” Thomas said.

This doesn’t mean small businesses statewide — again, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic — are without their share of challenges and concerns. Chief among them, for the fourth year in a row, is healthcare costs, with 39.3% of respondents reporting they are very concerned with the cost of healthcare.

Ranking as the second biggest concern (35.3%) was hiring and retaining employees. Thomas noted that challenge jumped 10% from last year and surfaced as a top-three concern for the first time — a fact that did not surprise him.

“It’s just another indicator of economy growth,” Thomas said. “It’s one problem, but it’s a byproduct of something good. It’s good to have the growth and the diversification that we have, it’s just something we have to try to manage.”

In the same vein, the survey showed recruiting quality employees as a challenge, with more than 77% of small business owners saying it was somewhat or very difficult for them to recruit quality candidates — a 7.7% increase from last year.

Playing a role, Thomas said, is the lack of available jobs in Nevada, pointing to Nevada’s historically low unemployment rate. At the time of the survey (again, conducted prior to the COVID-19 crisis), it was a mere 3.3%, the state’s lowest jobless rate in 20 years.

“While the low unemployment is a sign of a strong economy,” Thomas said, “the lack of a qualified, available employee-base can increase costs, it can affect profit margins and it hampers companies’ ability to expand.”

Helping matters, he said, is the fact the state’s universities and colleges are generating more and more programs that “hit local employment-base needs” in industries like manufacturing and technology.

The NSB survey also showed that access to financing is a shrinking issue for Nevada small businesses. Specifically, less than half (48.8%) found it somewhat-to-very difficult to get financing from a bank, a 15.1% drop from 2019.

“Businesses have strengthened their balance sheets over the last few years,” Thomas explained. “They have a history of generating profitable positive cash-flow, coupled with the stable economy that we have, which in essence results in less risk.”

Looking deep into 2020, more than 47% of respondents expect the 2020 presidential election to have a positive impact on their business.

Of those surveyed, about 55% think the Republican party will win the presidency in November, 25% are “not sure,” and roughly 11% expect a Democrat to win.

Working Together: Reducing risk of employee burnout amid COVID crisis (Voices)

RENO, Nev. — Whether you call it stress, anxiety, grief, fear or burnout, we can all recognize we’re suddenly forced to function in a world that is dramatically different than it was a few weeks ago.

While we see an increasing number of resources to help individuals function amid the chaos, what role do employers play in minimizing stress? It’s important to note that layoffs are certainly playing a role in our environment, but our focus here is on threats to and strategies for retaining the employees you intend to keep.

The psychological, physical and financial costs of managing a burnt-out workforce are complex; researchers in 2015 estimated that workplace stress costs the country anywhere from $125 to $190 billion dollars a year — or 5 to 8 percent of national healthcare spending.

In the workplace, stressed employees exhibit increased errors and lower productivity and can demoralize colleagues. For individuals, stress and burnout can lead to insomnia, substance abuse, heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and vulnerability to illness.

Whether you are supporting a newly remote workforce, manage frontline staff or are trying to keep a small business afloat, we’re hoping these are areas you can control that will have a positive impact. It’s important for all levels management to play a role and should not be the sole responsibility of your HR department:

  1. Communicate frequently, clearly, and transparently. Most of your employers are overdosing on news but are also looking to leadership to provide reliable information. Be deliberate with what information you discuss or disseminate. Help to digest material so that the most relevant and high-priority items are clear.
  2. Validate concerns. Anxiety is amplified if employees perceive their feelings to be unwarranted and leaders can inadvertently make a stressful situation worse if the message is, “don’t panic.”
  3. Provide guide stars to focus energy into positive work. Increased messaging to focus staff on what can be done, even in a small way, can strengthen collaboration and positive outlook and lead to more valuable productivity.
  4. Put extra effort into treating others with respect and understanding. In a state of heightened anxiety there is a tendency to be short or impatient and leaders should be careful to both give and receive information from a place of empathy.
  5. Consider reducing work hours to encourage employees to take care of themselves and their families. Many are managing themselves, their environments, and dependents. Acknowledging employees need extra time to do so, or giving more space to complete complex tasks and generate ideas, will be appreciated.
  6. Promote tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams that facilitate virtual collaboration but may also be a way for employees to share memes or videos to spread joy and show support. Try using Zoom or other video conference platform to add a more human component to your regular meetings and remember to stay light-hearted while kinks in the technology are worked out.
  7. Check in more regularly. Make yourself available to answer questions over a variety of media and/or schedule a daily check-in with your team to share updates or provide guidance. Help set goals for what must get done and what can wait.
  8. Encourage employees to become masters of their work and give room for ownership. Giving them a purpose, particularly if you are on the frontline in any capacity, is a critical component to avoiding burnout. One of the greatest sources of organizational energy is giving employees a sense of autonomy.
  9. Regulate the media in your environment. Consider trading the news or stock tickers for a tranquil escape. The CARE channel, source of soothing and calming videos, has made many of their resources available for free; go to healinghealth.com/covid-resources for more.

Ultimately, the most valuable thing you can do is to take care of yourself. If you aren’t managing your own stress or burnout, it will be nearly impossible for you to create a supportive environment for your employees or for them to support their stakeholders.

When it comes down to it, we need consider different approaches to keeping effective employees functioning at the high levels, and most importantly, make sure they stick with us through the crisis.

“Working Together,” which focuses on fostering a future workforce for the greater Reno region, is a recurring Voices column in the NNBW authored by the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada. Amy Fleming is manager of workforce development for EDAWN. Reach her for comment at fleming@edawn.org.