Kris Holt: Northern Nevada businesses concerned about rising health care costs

Kris Holt, executive director of Nevada Business Connections, which is located in the First Independent Bank Carson City Branch at 1818 East College Parkway.

Kris Holt, executive director of Nevada Business Connections, which is located in the First Independent Bank Carson City Branch at 1818 East College Parkway.

Although local manufacturing owners and managers are more confident in their company’s future than they have been during the past five years, they also are concerned about health care costs, the Margins Tax Initiative, local government attitudes and a worker shortage.

Nevada Business Connections, a private economic development organization with offices in Carson City and Reno since 2008, has been conducting a manufacturing survey during the last three months. The one-on-one interviews with 70 manufacturers in Carson City and Douglas County, concluded 85 percent of the businesses were confident in their firm’s future. The findings echo NBC’s monthly breakfast meetings speaker’s comments during the past three years. This monthly panel of manufacturing executives have regularly stated their businesses are ramping up production as they anticipate further economic recovery.

For the continuing survey, confidence was especially high — at 96 percent — among companies with 50 employees or less.

Forty-five percent of manufacturing executives are more optimistic their revenue will grow than five years ago. And the overwhelming majority anticipates growth will come from new customers. Few firms do business locally except for (F.I.R.E.) financial, insurance and real estate services.

While confident, the participants also mentioned their top concerns as health care costs. The number one inhibitor to growth. Government attitudes, “Clueless politicians who don’t know the value and impacts of manufacturing to our community.” And their ability to attract and retain qualified employees. All companies have labor issues (no-shows, substance abuse and lack of communication skills). The major concern was the small pool of talented workers. This weakness persists as 35 percent of manufacturing executives believe their firms will grow in the year ahead.

Fifty-two percent of the manufacturers perceive the skilled labor shortage may get worse as Tesla and its suppliers locate to the area.

“Tesla’s incentives were not available to them or they did not qualify for Nevada’s incentives program.” The concern persists about attracting and retaining skilled workers. Sixty-eight percent of the manufacturers surveyed said the state was “on the right track” and 31 percent believed issues like “taxes, regulations, and policy uncertainties,” might negatively impact their company’s growth.

All are upset with the Margin Tax Initiative (12 manufacturers are considering leaving the state with 435 employees). Ten manufacturing companies are planning to expand in Carson City and Douglas County, possibly adding 460 new jobs in the next 18 months.

Eighty-two percent said “quality of life” was the number one reason for moving to the region along with cost savings and sensible regulations.

This is important, first-hand feedback from one of the most significant contributors to northern Nevada’s economy.

Remember, I’m just the messenger, the boots on the ground guy who wants to help the Capital Region (Carson, Douglas, Lyon and Storey counties) remain as the manufacturing center of the state.

Kris Holt is the executive director of Nevada Business Connections.


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