Two weeks ago Nevada Business Connections had the opportunity to visit six companies in the Seattle region. All businesses except one were family oriented (owner operated) and employed less than 60 people. Every company wanted to lease buildings in Northern Nevada which required 40,000-square-foot facility or less. The businesses NBC attempted to recruit were:
• Chocolate Factory: 10,000-square-foot/20 employees
• Bicycle Manufacturer: 20,000-square-foot/25 employees
• Trucking Company: 10,000-square-foot/10 employees
• Electronics Distributor: 20,000-square-foot/10 employees
• Recreational Equipment Manufacturer: 40,000-square-foot/60 employees
• Wholesale Foods Warehouse/Dist.: 300,000-square-foot/150 employees
The overall objective was to encourage businesses to visit Northern Nevada. Two companies plan to visit us in the next two months. I would give this trip a "C."
How we sell the Capital Region is with three "unique selling points".
Manufacturing environment: Manufacturers love to be around other manufacturers. The Capital Region is the "manufacturing center of the state." There are 160 manufacturers in Carson City which equates to a manufacturing employment rate of 12 percent. Douglas County has 70 manufacturers, 10 percent; Lyon County has 120 manufacturers, 22 percent (most are located in Mound House); Storey County has 80 manufacturers, 18 percent. The state has a 4 percent manufacturing employment rate, with Las Vegas at 3 percent and Washoe County at 6 percent.
Environmental Protection Agency rules and regulations are sensible: The region is less stringent than most states and even Reno/Sparks. In a nutshell, you don't have to smog your car or truck in the Capital Region. This is a huge red-tape issue along with taxes.
Overall costs of doing business is less: The cost of land, buildings, lease rates, labor expenses and taxes are less than the metro areas of Nevada.
Obstacles to overcome: The current weaknesses include politics, real estate, and electric power rates.
The national and state economic uncertainty is a major obstacle. Companies usually wait to make a decision until the presidential election is over. People want to know the future of the world, the U.S. and Nevada.
However, declining real estate values almost everywhere are hampering relocation/expansion decisions. Most family-oriented businesses will have to take a "hit" both personally and with their businesses. Will that "hit" justify a move in the long run is the question? Carson City has many available industrial buildings with approximately a 22 percent vacancy rate.
Our electrical power rates are killing us. Nevada has the highest rates in the West except for California. We need a power rate rebate as an incentive to be competitive in today's manufacturing world.
NBC's next trip will be to California which, of course, is our number one geographic target. We plan on recruiting in Sacramento and Grass Valley in April. We are actually planning to open an office in Sacramento. We feel that having a presence behind competitive lines would be very effective for business recruitment and to encourage tourism.
The overall objective of the trip was to encourage companies to visit our region. Our philosophy is to be proactive, and show genuine interest in their operations by visiting them on their turf, nose-to-nose, toe-to-toe.
• Kris Holt is the executive director of Nevada Business Connections. NBC is a private business recruitment and expansion organization formed in July 2008. NBC currently has 225 members serving Northern Nevada with offices in Reno and Carson City.