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Stronger Economies Together Team Focuses on Local Needs

Posted 5/14/2012

Tom Harris

Tom Harris

Minden Workshop Addresses Demographics and Economics of the Eight-County Western Nevada Development District

The Stronger Economies Together Regional Planning Team met in Minden May 8-9 to focus on demographics and economic data for the eight-county region. Nearly 60 participants attended the workshop, which is part of a 10-month training and strategic planning process for the Western Nevada Development District.

University of Nevada Center for Economic Development Director Tom Harris kicked off the segment on the demographic data for the region, providing general information about the population, education, location and social characteristics of the region. Nevada is second only to Florida for the fewest number of native-born residents, Harris said, adding that manufacturers love the natural amenities Nevada has to offer, especially the natural environment. Continuing education of all types will continue to be important to businesses considering moving to the area, Harris said, noting that changes in the workforce over the past five years — away from blue-collar jobs and toward a more creative class — is challenging existing skill sets.

Harris, a community development specialist with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, said that one of the keys to economic growth is to conduct a cluster analysis to identify which firms and industries are currently working in the region, and to further key in on how and where they get their products and services. It might be possible to develop local services or products that can assist in their production, thereby keeping funds in the region that might otherwise "leak" elsewhere.

Harris pointed out that the region is made up of between 20 to 50 percent blue-collar jobs, and that workforce sector in the region lost 40,000 blue-collar jobs between 2006-2011, with most losses in construction and the service industry.

Lisa Granahan, the Douglas County vitality manager, noted that Douglas County is No. 1 in the state for college graduate degrees. She said Douglas County may have benefitted between 2003-2007 from the infusion of highly educated retirees who have moved to the area. "We may have an opportunity here to leverage those degrees into mentoring and other educational opportunities," Granahan said.

Both Carson and Douglas showed higher educational levels and higher median income than the other six counties in the region.

In most of the counties, participants identified major concerns regarding access to community college/vo-tech training. Many also voiced concerns about their community’s ability to provide services for the elderly and poor. All but Carson City, Churchill and Douglas were concerned about availability of medical services.

Although the data sharing was intensive, there will be still more targeted information to study and dissect in the near future. At the next SET meeting in Virginia City June 20, the team will hear a presentation on the state’s targeted economic clusters by sector specialists from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

To learn more about the Nevada SET initiative, call Carl Dahlen at (775) 230-0075 or visit the website at

The Nevada SET Executive Committee includes representatives from the Western Nevada Development District, the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, USDA Rural Development, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the University of Nevada Center for Economic Development, the Nevada Rural Development Council, the University of Nevada Small Business Development Center, and Connect Nevada. This small but active group has been meeting since August 2011 to develop and deliver the SET program in Nevada.

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