The Northern Nevada economy is growing after years of economic decline and soft recovery since the Great Recession of 2008 through 2010. In the years following such harsh economic reality, it would be easy for local jurisdictions throughout Northern Nevada to think and act inward. Instead, the region has grown increasingly interconnected.
A growing transportation network has facilitated the mobility of people, goods, services and culture throughout Northern Nevada. The communities of Reno-Sparks, Fernley, Silver Springs-Dayton and Carson City are connected by an elaborate transportation and infrastructure network. Approximately 438,000 people live in this area and an estimated workforce of approximately 230,000 people commute daily throughout it.
Existing infrastructure allows individual workers to seek employment opportunities across a much larger geographic area, and based upon recent data, the area’s workforce is doing just that. An increasing amount of workers in the nine counties of the Western Nevada Development District (Carson City, Churchill, Douglas, Humboldt, Lyon, Mineral, Pershing, Storey and Washoe) are choosing to work in one county and live in another – as of 2016, approximately 45.28 percent of the region’s workforce.
Recent concerns regarding the lack of an available workforce needed by individual firms to fuel their continued growth is not necessarily a local phenomenon nor is it being created by local pressures. A business in Reno will draw from a workforce educated not only in Washoe County but also in Carson City, Douglas County, Lyon County or even Humboldt County. Firms must not only compete with other firms in their local community but also with firms across the entire region.
As individual worker mobility increases, local firms find it harder and harder to recruit and retain their workforce. Additionally, as people, goods and services move across county and municipal boundaries, individual firms and individual public organizations find themselves more and more impacted by the decisions of other communities.
As a further result of this increasing degree of economic, political, social, infrastructure and transportation interdependence throughout Northern Nevada, planning initiatives and infrastructure projects undertaken in one community have direct and meaningful impacts on the effectiveness of planning and development strategies in other communities.
For private sector firms and public government organizations such as the area’s county and municipal governments, the challenge is to understand the changing dynamics of the area’s regional economy. Private sector firms and local municipal and county governments should work with their regional partners to develop strategies designed to capitalize on the current upward swing of Northern Nevada’s economic recovery.
Frederick Steinmann is an assistant research professor in the University of Nevada, Reno’s College of Business.