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Regional Report: The West, for the Most Part, is Growing

Reno is suddenly as hot as a firecracker.

Regional Report West

ArroHealth, a national provider of medical payment analytics, opened a new operation in Reno, Nevada in mid-February. Three weeks later, Cam-Concept, a Canadian specialized industrial equipment manufacturer, announced it was opening a U.S. headquarters in Sparks. Three days after that, Sonwil Distribution cut the ribbons on a new logistics center in Reno.

The three were among the latest companies to relocate or expand in Greater Reno (population: 426,000) close to the California border. Their new neighbors include eBay, Switch, Black Ridge Technology, Clear Capital, Flirtey and Petco—and the not-to-be-missed Tesla Motors.

A company building a 10 million-square-foot battery plant in a recession-hammered market is tough to overlook. “Our world has just changed with Tesla!” proclaimed Mike Kazmierski, CEO of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, when news broke that Tesla’s “gigafactory” would create 6,500 full-time jobs there.

Kazmierski’s team, working with the state’s economic development operation, won out over California and several other rivals for the most coveted build-out of the year by offering $1.25 billion worth of incentives over 20 years—larger by far than any preceding Nevada welcome package, and among the largest in U.S. history.

“Reno is hot right now, as hot as a firecracker,” says Jim Renzas, a site selector from Orange County, California who cites the region’s numerous advantages. Because of use of natural gas, “energy costs are about half what they are in California,” he says. Then there’s the workforce. “The labor market features a surplus of talented workers,” he notes.

Another major advantage is location. Employers pay lower taxes and comply with generally less restrictive environmental regulations while being able to easily service the California market across the nearby border. “Reno-Sparks can be the next Austin,” declares Floyd Rowley, a commercial real estate broker and senior VP with the Johnson Group in Reno. The city is “in a position to replicate this tech-driven growth.”


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