In December, nine Assembly members and five state senators came together to discuss the current and future state of technology-driven economic development happening in Nevada. Composed of lawmakers from the north and south, the newly formed Tech Caucus is a bicameral, bipartisan group focused on enlightening the Legislature on emerging technology and business-related issues in the upcoming session.
According to experts, the outlook for Nevada’s economy this year is positive and projected to fare at least as well as it did, or perhaps even better, in 2018. However, one or more known or unknown wild cards could have a dampening effect.
Since the great recession, the Reno-Sparks economy has been on a roll — unemployment rates have plummeted and capital investments made by game-changing companies have surged. Mike Kazmierski, president and CEO of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, has been helping lead the charge and keep the pace since arriving in Reno in 2011.
The depth of the economic crater Nevada fell into—the state’s unemployment rate hit a staggering 14.5 percent in December 2010—makes its climb back to prosperity nothing short of remarkable. Nevada did much more than simply ride the rising tide of the national recovery. To put it simply, the Silver State reinvented itself.
Tech employment in the United States expanded by nearly 200,000 jobs in 2017 to 11.5 million workers, according to a recent report by technology industry association CompTIA. Thirty-eight states saw positive tech employment growth in 2017, including Nevada. The state added 1,419 net new tech jobs year-over-year, raising the estimated tech industry employment in the state to 31,393.
The world is interconnected, and events on one part of the globe can often have ripple effects on local economies that export crops or minerals. Prices could slip. Prices could spike. This is a reality for several Nevada counties, where dominant industries include mining and agriculture. In fact, two Nevada counties — Eureka and Lander – are among the most export-dependent counties in the U.S., according to an analysis by Pew Research Center.
When I was a kid, I remember running home from school every day to watch Star Trek (think: M-5 from the episode titled “The Ultimate Computer”). Thirty years later, I am still a sci-fi nerd, so it’s a bit surreal to watch as artificial intelligence (AI) begins displacing jobs like M-5 did on the Enterprise. Today the speed in which technology is changing our society is head spinning.