EDAWN'S Economic Update for Reno-Sparks
We were there to see their yearly job growth results…and what to expect in 2017.
Over 600 community and business leaders got the latest lowdown on our economy today (Thursday). EDAWN, the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, hosted their annual review at the Peppermill. It's this area's yearly economic check, the conference that answers the question once a year of “Where are we?” EDAWN President and CEO Mike Kazmierski will take a crack at that. As he told us, "The short version is, we're on fire."
He says his agency, along with government, brought over 30,000 new jobs here in just five years. He also added, "20,000 of those jobs are people who were unemployed, so we're putting those people back to work."
Nearby, featured speaker Juergen Urbanski, VP of Silicon Valley Data Science told us, "I think that's absolutely amazing. If I understand correctly, it translates to about 5% year over year growth."
Attracting those companies was not cheap. There were huge tax breaks for Tesla...for Apple. Yes they generate jobs, but if you exempt them from taxes, all those people who came to work will need schools for their kids and police for neighborhoods. Kazmierski says those are true growing pains. As he put it, “Our tax structure now is broken in many ways. Our government and school district count a lot on property taxes. Property taxes in this state are done in a way that no other state does. If the legislature at some point could take that on, it would be huge"
Until that happens, the forecast is more of the same. The good? He told us, "We've got quality companies coming to the region. We've got startups that are growing in our region and a lot of the companies here are adding people."
He says they have 1,362 new jobs lined up for the area that they haven't announced yet and another 3,827 jobs look very promising. They call them “hot prospects”. Tesla is ahead of schedule they say, over 1,000 working there now, with over 6,500 working at Tesla and Panasonic together by 2020. Projected growth for Reno-Sparks from now to then is 4.3% a year.
There's another advantage our area seems to have. The quality of people, and the commitment business and government leaders seem to have. Juergen Urbanski can tell you about that...he moved here himself: "Here people are really focused. They're sincere, they're genuine. They're genuinely interested in building a business for the long term."