Douglas County Business Council talks millennials and obtainable housing |

Douglas County Business Council talks millennials and obtainable housing

by Rachel Spacek
Winners of the Business Council's spotlight awards. Each winner received an engraved lantern with a glowing flameless candle symbolic of keeping the Economic Vitality torch lit in creating a “Community to Match the Scenery.” In addition a silver ribbon was attached to mark the symbolism of 25 years of service from the Business Council.
Special to the RC |

The millennial generation’s work needs and a lack of available housing were the major issues discussed at the Douglas County Business Council’s Critical Issues Conference, held on Thursday at the council’s 25-year anniversary.

Douglas County Manager Larry Werner was one of the morning speakers at the conference and highlighted “obtainable housing” as one of the county’s biggest problems going forward.

Werner said the county is trying to do whatever they can to help with obtainable housing, but they need to hear from more than, “just the people who have moved to the county and want it to stay exactly the way it is.”

“That is not sustainable from what we can see from trying to get housing and trying to build a workforce,” Werner said.

Another issue Werner addressed that runs right alongside of obtainable housing is workforce replacement. According to Werner, approximately 20 percent of Douglas County’s workforce will be retiring in the next five years. He said they need to find housing to ensure they have the best individuals to replace the retiring workforce.

Edgewood Companies Marketing Director Bryan Davis said one employee he hired had to stay in their hotel for six weeks before he could find an available house in Douglas County.

“We’re seeing it at the lake with hiring people,” Davis said. “We have some workforce housing that we’ve used for the last 17 years. As we continue to grow with the lodge and everything else, we are seeing these same issues.”

Andrew Strain, Edgewood regional vice president of planning and government affairs, also expressed concern with the lack of available housing around Lake Tahoe.

“Our ability to find housing for people at the lake that is affordable is getting squeezed,” Strain said.

Another issue facing Douglas County business is the changing workforce from the “Baby Boomer” generation to the “Millennial” generation and how to cope with those changes.

A panel of Baker Hughes Bently Nevada employees, including Brian Murphy, lead operations finance analyst, Chad Cox, chief financial officer, Steve Sturm, senior product line leader and Emma Morgan from the communications department, addressed this issue.

Murphy, a millennial himself, said the generation is filled with individuals who are outspoken about what they want and one of the things they want is to have a full-time career, but also have they lifestyle they want.

Cox said it is important to understand that the millennial generation’s needs might be different than the needs of other generations.

“I think folks are done trading hours for dollars at a job they don’t really want just to make rent payments,” Cox said. “They want to have more meaning in the work that they do and we need to help provide that. We need to help folks be passionate and find meaning in their work and it will go a long way to help meet the need of millennials.”

Stern said that in his experience with millennials, employers need to provide them with interesting things to do and with the opportunity to change jobs and move around within the company to prove that there is always something new and interesting to do.

Douglas County used the occasion to give out awards to recognize businesses in seven different categories including, retail, restaurant, manufacturing and production, sports and recreation, entrepreneur, business and professional, tourism and hospitality.

The winners include: The Chocolate Shoppe for retail, Alpen Sierra Coffee for entrepreneur, J.T. Basque Restaurant Bar and Dining room for restaurant, Axelson Tactical for sports and recreation, Heritage Law Group, Cassandra Jones for business and professional service and Edgewood Tahoe for tourism and hospitality.

“In addition to celebrating the foundation and the future … we are always excited to award the businesses in our community who are outstanding community partners,” said Werner.