BY BILL ODRISCOLLbodriscoll@rgj.com
The recession crimped business relocations and expansions across Reno-Tahoe in the past year but new-company inquiries rose 15 percent, the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada said today.
The Reno-based agency and its partners assisted 17 companies in moving in or expanding existing operations in the 12-month period ending June 30. That’s down 40 percent from the prior fiscal year.
The 11 new companies and six expansion projects represent nearly $112 million in economic impact to the region.
While those numbers are down from previous years, EDAWN said its fiscal 2009 efforts created 743 new jobs, a 13 percent increase from a year earlier.
The agency pegged that in part to the addition of a call center at AT&T Nevada and a new customer service center opened by The Hartford Financial Services Group, accounting for a combined 450 new hires.
“There’s no doubt the economic downturn has taken a toll on our local businesses and workforce with unemployment at an all-time high,” said Chuck Alvey, president/CEO of EDAWN. But with the surge in inquiries from prospective businesses, he said, officials are hopeful for a turnaround ahead.
“We see that as a positive sign that the economy is trying to rebound, and when it does, these companies will be looking to pull the trigger and make the move. And we want Reno-Tahoe to be top-of-mind when they do,” Alvey said.
The EDAWN report said 13 percent of the inquiries are from California, 5 percent from the Midwest, 4 percent from the Northeast, 4 percent international and the rest from Nevada and undisclosed regions.
Tina Iftiger, business development director, said EDAWN is preparing a marketing campaign aimed at California companies in clean energy technology and related technology and manufacturing.
She said California’s ongoing financial woes are the key motivator for companies considering leaving.
“They’ve told us they’ve had enough of the chaos and escalating cost of doing business and are looking to improve their bottom line,” she said.