Described as, “Northern Nevada’s largest economic forum,” the 15th Annual Directions was held yesterday at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.
Hosted by the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN), the purpose of Directions is to look back at what the region has accomplished, develop a better understanding of where the region is going, and determine what can be improved upon.
Last year, attendees of Directions 2006 were made aware of the lack of talented young working professionals in the region. Many natives either leave after college, or we fail to attract those from other areas. This is a problem that can have far reaching economic implications for Northern Nevada. This year everyone gathered to see if we had made any progress.
The event is always attended by many of the region’s business and government leaders, so aside from determining how the region can be improved, it is also a great place for social networking.
Twelve Horses was a gold sponsor and had a booth on the exhibit floor. It was a chance to interact with more than 800 attendees, as well as show support for the Chamber and EDAWN.
Jobs in Northern Nevada
Northern Nevada provides a considerable amount of the employees and infrastructure Twelve Horses needs to be successful. The efforts of these two organizations have played a significant role in attracting new talent to the region, developing an environment conducive to business, and providing a compass in the form of:
- Survey data
- Competitive analysis of other markets
- Effective strategies for business and government
- Opportunities for collaboration
A new group was announced at the event named, YPN or the Young Professional Network. It has been created to address the workforce shortage, as well as cultivate and retain young professionals in Northern Nevada. This announcement was to serve as a major focal point of the entire conference – we must attract and retain young talent – and this message resonated throughout the agenda. It ties into:
- Education and the University of Nevada-Reno
- Redevelopment of Downtown Reno, Sparks, and Carson City
- Fostering a creative and exciting business environment that provides competitive benefits
- Outbound marketing for the region
What do Reno, Sparks, and Carson City have planned?
Attendees received a very good overview of the urban plans for the cities of Reno, Sparks and Carson City. In each case, they have applied careful consideration in determining the right ratios of anchor points, public spaces, and traffic flow. To echo Michael Freedman, Urban Designer, “focus on one small area as an engine of redevelopment.” For Reno, it has clearly been and will continually to be the Truckee River.
Charles McNeely, Reno City Manager gave a very eloquent and informative presentation about the future of downtown Reno. He did not say anything that hasn’t already been covered on Downtown Makeover and Reno and its Discontents, but not everybody reads blogs. Additionally, it was good to hear more of the reasoning behind much of it.
The influx of new condos in downtown Reno clearly represents a concerted effort to stimulate other new businesses to move in as well. The City also has plans to extend the whitewater park, add new lighting and trees, build an elaborate ice rink cover, and turn the post office into a mixed-use building.
At the VIP luncheon following the conference, I could not help but ask Charles McNeely when we are one, getting free Wi-Fi in Wingfield Park and two, what plans does the city have in applying greater green building standards into new developments. Answers to both questions were positive, and to the latter he cited David Bobzien as a catalyst – a legislator that is not afraid to discuss the environment.
Think of Sparks as becoming an “urban village” with the Regional Transportation Committee (RTC) providing synergy between various Reno and Sparks destination centers. The plans for the District of Victorian Square and the Sparks Marina are impressive, and there was even a hint of AAA sports complex.
Carson City, Nevada
Carson City will reclaim downtown and create a “vibrant commerce center” once the new highway 395 project is complete. The 4-lane artery that runs through downtown will be brought down to two, and there will be ample parking and opportunities to shop, eat at restaurants and enjoy open spaces.
Making Northern Nevada a better place to live will keep employees here, attract new ones, and further stimulate Northern Nevada’s economy. Directions 2007 demonstrated that we are headed in the right direction but still have much work to do. Smart growth and smart development are key ingredients as we go head-to-head with many other competing cities within the United States, but it also requires support for the University and local schools, as well as individual responsibility for the development of our children and our own personal growth.
It is certainly exciting to consider the possibilities, and I do not think there was one person at Directions who wasn’t optimistic about the future of Northern Nevada.