Quick, what are the top industries in Northern Nevada? For many of us, casinos and warehouses are the first ones to come to mind. In reality, as the recent NCET Technology / RGJ Entrepreneur Awards demonstrated, our local economy is far more diversified than most of us realize.
When we created the NCET / RGJ Awards, we had two goals: First, to recognize the people and companies who – through innovation and hard work – drive Nevada’s economy. Second, and equally important, to shine a spotlight on the fascinating companies which call Northern Nevada home and which work quietly with little fanfare and little public recognition.
Using some of our recent award winners as a starting point, here are just a few of Northern Nevada’s industry “sectors” filled with successful companies that are thriving and growing in spite of the economic challenges we all face.
Aerospace: I grew up with rockets and the space program and knew the most obscure points of the Nike, Mercury and Gemini programs by heart. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to discover our own burgeoning space program. One of our winners, Digital Solid State Propulsion, builds rocket motors in Reno. Sierra Nevada Corporation is working on the next generation of the space shuttle; Natel (formerly Htyek Microsystems) constructs hybrid assemblies for aerospace applications in Carson City; while Challenger Aerospace Corporation builds Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, commonly known as drones.
Clean Energy: Our awards recognized the Peppermill Resort Space Casino for its leadership in geothermal and other green initiatives. They join Northern Nevada’s pioneering clean energy companies that include Advanced Refining Concepts, ElectraTherm, Enel Green Power, Gradient Resources and Ormat Technologies. We also recognized SunScience, which combined its systems integration and computer software with Tripp Plastics’ fabrication and machining expertize, much of it gained in gaming-related applications.
Software: Winners 3G Studios, Noble Studios, ShortStack and Understand.com, along with other local companies including Airframe Business Software and 5000ft, create a wide range of video games, web interfaces, educational software, apps, business software and much, much more. Much of the talent behind these companies is young, highly-skilled people recently graduated from the University of Nevada Reno, Truckee Meadows Community College and Sierra Nevada College.
Financial Services: Nevada’s favorable business, regulatory and tax environment make it an ideal location for financial services operations. Apple Computer’s Braeburn Capital, for example, manages nearly $10 BILLION in cash and short term investments here in Reno, while Cisco Systems, Intuit and Microsoft Licensing all have significant financial services operations here.
These are just a few of the industry sectors that are alive and well in Northern Nevada. Throughout 2012, I’ll write about other equally interesting sectors that are quietly growing and innovating and which equally deserve recognition.