UNR professor tells county to help existing business, too | RecordCourier.com

UNR professor tells county to help existing business, too

by Sheila Gardner

To achieve and maintain economic health, Douglas County needs to lend a helping hand to existing businesses as well as continue ongoing efforts to attract outside commercial development.

That was the advice Thursday from Professor Tom Harris, University of Nevada, Reno, Department of Agriculture, who presented a synopsis to county commissioners of the $18,000 Douglas County commercial sector leakage study.

“Douglas County is a little behind in attracting businesses, but that’s not bad,” Harris said. “It shows you have opportunity. Does one county gain while the other loses? I don’t think so in this case. The pie is growing.”

Harris, a UNR Department of Agriculture professor, was hired by the county to complete the so-called “retail leakage study,” and compare the results to a similar report prepared eight years ago.

According to Harris’ results, more than half of the $325 million that Douglas County residents spent for goods and services last year was outside the county.

“In addition to the number crunching, we wanted to get some opinions from people who live here,” Harris said. “You are capturing a lot more than you did last time, there’s growth in the local economy.”

n Best of both. With the rural atmosphere and growing economy, Harris said Douglas County has “the best of both worlds.”

“The rural atmosphere is a big thing nationally,” he said.

Harris’ report outlined suggestions for developing “commercial sector strategies,” including analyzing businesses to identify needs and opportunities, providing management and counseling to businesses; offering assistance in obtaining financing and promoting development of home-based enterprises.

Harris also recommended completing a strategic plan for Douglas County commercial sector development.

“You need to develop plans that people are really behind,” he said.

Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors’ Authority executive director Dave Bolick said he believed the final report didn’t contain any surprises.

“There were no shocks,” he said. “We definitely have certain areas we need to target. The chamber will be forming a task force to address items there. Hopefully, with Target coming in, we’re settling a major area by attracting a general merchandise department store. I think one of things we need to find out from our people here is what would complement their businesses,” Bolick said.

He said the chamber would set up a task force. Bolick also said copies of the study and summary are available at the chamber office, 1512 Highway 395 South, Gardnerville.

n Grateful board. Commissioners told Harris they were grateful for the information.

“It’s hard to put a value on this type of information,” said Commissioner Jacques Etchegoyhen. “There is nothing worse than public officials making decisions in the dark. This puts a floodlight on it.”

Commissioner Don Miner said the updated information provides an action plan for the county.

“It gives us a road map. I welcome this type of product,” Miner said.

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