Some bright spots in the gloom

In the backwaters of the economic recession, new businesses are bobbing to the surface.

Grace & Ida's Custom Cookies, The Yoga Loft, Standard Diesel " are just a few of small businesses that have opened shop in Carson Valley despite the nation's economic malaise.

Larger chain stores are also rearing their heads. JC&C Wireless, a Reno-based AT&T retailer, has opened a new store in the Waterloo Center in Gardnerville. Fastenal, a national supplier of industrial hardware, has replaced the Valley Do It Center in Minden.

The Valley's manufacturing sector is experiencing resurgence as well. Fruit beverage producer Q-4 Pack Co. is planning to locate to the Meridian Business Park in Minden, bringing seven new jobs with it. JRS Turbine & Blading, a turbine blade and parts manufacturer already based in the business park, is planning a 12,580-square-foot expansion that will create eight new jobs. Not to mention Aim Kilns' recent relocation from Oregon to Johnson Lane.

For every storefront shuttered, there seems to be a company or entrepreneur or dreamer willing to start something new.

"We've been really busy here," said Rob Hooper, interim executive director of the Northern Nevada Development Authority. "We've gotten more calls in the last six weeks than in months."

Hooper attributes the flurry of activity to Nevada's business-friendly environment.

"As things become more stressed in California and other parts of the nation, Nevada, which continues to be a great place to have a business, shines," he said. "When times are tough, people start looking for new ways of doing things."

One key may be in marketing to the current economic environment, helping customers with their own financial concerns.

"When things are tough, people are looking to save money," said Martin Manning, general manager of Fastenal. "We have this vendor-manager inventory program where we try to come into the local community and get the companies to let us inventory their inventories. We buy bigger quantities and have the buying power. So we can keep some inventory for the companies instead of having them buy one or two things at a time."

Gardnerville resident Jeanne Robinson just opened a fitness studio along Highway 395 in what used to be the headquarters of a car lot.

"My conclusion is that people are still spending money on health," she said. "They need that relief with all the stress and money issues going on."

But no matter how accommodating their business model, business owners still need that basic drive, that sense of perseverance and that willingness to take a risk.

"This is my first business," Robinson said. "I'm not nervous. It's been my dream to open a spinning studio. I'm learning as I go."


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