Diversified and somewhat pandemic proof

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) – A large crowd at the Peppermill got an update about the sate of our local economy Thursday as EDAWN hosted a luncheon with the latest information about the economic health of our area.

It was a report card of sorts. after two years of economic disruption courtesy of the pandemic. How are we doing and where are we going? The answer to the first question was surprisingly positive. It seems we’ve weathered the pandemic well and compared with many other communities we’re in good shape.

“Our unemployment rate for example is 2.9%, well below the national average and half that in the Las Vegas area,” said EDAWN President and CEO Mike Kazmierski. “When you look at the job market and where we’re at today there’s a lot of positives,” adds the event’s keynote speaker, Brian Gordon of Applied Analysis.

EDAWN–the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada–has spent the past decade or more beating the drum for diversification. They could be excused for taking the opportunity to take some credit.

“When the service sector took a hit all of our manufacturers were working,” said Kazmierski. “All of our logistics, distribution and e-commerce people were working. All our technology workers were at work. And when they’re at work they do things. they spend money and our sales tax revenue was actually higher during the pandemic than before,”

“Unlike the southern portion of the state that is highly dependent on travel and tourism, northern Nevada has really diversified,” said Gordon, “and it’s provided a lot of stability when you think about what’s happened in the past 22 months.”

You’d rather have economic growth than the opposite, but both present challenges, so Kazmierski says, we have a task before us to keep things moving in the right direction. “Forty percent of the jobs that exist now will be gone in 10 years. If we don’t bring in that next generation of jobs and technology in advance manufacturing then forty percent of the people here now are going to be out of work.”

And with growth, Kazmierski notes, comes perhaps our biggest challenge of the moment, lack of affordable housing and it’s consequence, homelessness.

“Our vision as a community should be zero functional homeless in the next five years and I think we can do it.”

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