"Directions" Makes its Economic Forecast for Nevada - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

"Directions" Makes its Economic Forecast for Nevada

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It's year 22 for the big "Directions" forum. In simple terms, it gives local businesses and civic leaders a prediction for the year ahead…a sneak preview at what will kick up our local economy, or bring it down…but it usually spins positive. Even during the worst of the recession the speakers here were upbeat.

But there are solid signs and reasons to be psyched: consumer spending in Nevada is up by quite a bit, a reliable sign of improvement & growth. The forum is called Directions. What is the direction today? Governor Sandoval told us, "I think the direction is definitely up, and my thanks to the business community for maintaining that momentum."

Still a problem: gaming's still flat and Reno's unemployment went up in December. In response, the governor agreed. "It is, and I recognize the job isn't close to being done, so I am in conversations with companies interested in coming to northern Nevada."

He wouldn't reveal who they were, but told me they come from as far as Israel: "I have an 8-page prospect sheet that has 10 companies on each of them...significant companies interested in coming to Nevada."

There was one common message folks we spoke to kept coming back to, and that's diversification. We asked analyst Jeremy Aguero of Applied Analysis about the prospects of Nevada getting off its dependence on gaming to another industry to fuel our growth. He told us, "I think it already is. I think 2012 was about putting distance between the recession and the state. 2013 was about planting seeds…we heard a lot about green shoots. I think 2014 is the year for action."

Aguero says it's already happening, even though it may not seem so since there's no one industry as powerful as gaming was earlier. Rather it's more spread out, as it should be. And it won't be just one industry taking the crown from gaming. Aguero said, "I think the idea we're going to find one industry that's somehow going to take over Nevada, or going to be our new gaming, is a mistake."

Instead, he see's a mix...of health and education services, technology, transportation services and green energy. As he put it, "You're seeing folks come off the benches."

-written by John Potter

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