The new Nevada will need more public transportation, increased healthcare, new housing developments and a large work force to fill the new jobs, said panelists discussing the challenges facing northern Nevada in a rapidly growing region.
Approximately 200 members of the business community filled the Peppermill ballroom to hear 11 panelists discuss the topic Wednesday, Jan. 6 at the first Northern Nevada Business Weekly Most Influential People Panel Discussion and Book of Lists Launch Party.
“We are standing on the brink of a Renaissance, or a Renoiaissance as some have said,” Steve Funk, Reno radio host and the moderator of the panel discussion, said.
The area is already feeling a positive economic impact with companies like Telsa and Switch coming to the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center and the more than 25 new or expanding companies that EDAWN announced in 2015.
The 11 panelists at the event represented a wide array of industries in northern Nevada. Panelists included President and CEO of Renown Health Dr. Anthony Slonim, President of the Nevada Mining Association Dana Bennett, CEO of the Regional Transportation Commission Lee Gibson, Principal and Director of Tahoe Reno Industrial Center Lance Gilman, President and CEO of Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada Mike Kazmierski, President and Chief Strategist of KPS3 Marketing Stephanie Kruse, West Region Partner for Dermody Properties George Condon, Principal of McKenzie Properties Todd McKenzie; Managing Partner of S3 Development Company Blake Smith, President and CEO of Peri & Sons Farms David Peri and President of UNR Dr. Marc Johnson.
“This growth opportunity brings challenges to this community,” Kazmierski said. And the growth is just starting, “Tesla hasn’t started hiring and Switch hasn’t started building.”
At the event, Gilman called the audience’s attention to a map of Storey County and TRIC.
“That is the most incredible job generator probably in the world today.”
According to Gilman, Telsa and Switch alone will provide half a billion dollars in payroll a year. This will pump an estimated 1.5 billion dollars into the northern Nevada community in the next 60 months.
One of the challenges for Storey County is the limited amount of land. There is 30,000 acres of land in TRIC that are developable and only 15,000 acres have utilities installed.
More than 20 business licenses have been approved in Storey County for Panasonic, which is bringing 28 Asian companies to relocate to northern Nevada.
While growth in the region is happening fast, now is the time to start preparing for this growth.
“The challenges are going to be many over the next five to seven years,” Gilman said. “But it is not happening Monday morning.”
Several of the panelists were very optimistic about the growth.
“Rapid growth generates a lot of creativity,” UNR’s Dr. Johnson said. “We should not fear growing too fast because we will find ways to accommodate this growth.”
However, other panelists cautioned the problems that could come from rapid growth if the community does not prepare.
“A rising tide is better than a sinking tide,” Smith said. “But (the rapid growth) is concerning, we need to have some leadership as we move forward.”
According to Smith, Reno has been really good at reacting. However, the community needs to create a vision of what Reno will become in the coming years.
Another mounting challenge is the work force.
According to Kazmierski, the bulk of the jobs that are coming will not require four-year degrees. Northern Nevada will have to work to draw in talent to fill the types of jobs that the new companies will need. Part of that is making the region a thriving place to live with access to good healthcare and schools.
The new population of people coming to northern Nevada will bring with it new diseases and health challenges that the medical facilities need to prepare for as well as finding ways to promote a healthy community.
“It is not just about healthcare,” Dr. Slonim said. “It is about health and wellness.”
Smith pointed out that K-12 education is a real problem that could potentially deter people from settling in the region if it is not addressed.
“That is one tripwire that could stop growth,” Smith said.
While the event provided a platform to discuss the rapid growth, the challenges that face the region are just beginning.
“It is going to take this entire northern Nevada,” Gilman said.