Reno the Next Tech Hub Without the Baggage

Posted by Brooke Sullivan on Monday, December 11th, 2017 at 6:15pm

Northern Nevada has earned big headlines in the news as a major tech hub, but is it really the next Silicon Valley?

Image courtesy of the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce

Particularly since Tesla began construction on its Gigafactory, Reno has had national headlines pegging it as the newest Silicon Valley. Lately, they’ve sounded something like this:

“For decades, the city was a gambling mecca. But when casinos fell on hard times, Reno struggled. The city has reinvented itself as a tech hub, thanks to recent arrivals like Tesla.”

That clip came from CBS This Morning as they touched on Reno’s economic improvements. And they are right – many big names in tech have moved, or expanded to northern Nevada in recent time including Apple, Switch and Google.

When Bloomberg Business made the comparison of Reno to Silicon Valley, some people had to disagree with that comparison.

“We want to be tech-y and grow our tech connections with the Bay Area, but we don’t want all the baggage that comes with the Bay Area,” said Mike Kazmierski, president of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.

Kazmierski says that the area offers a higher quality of life and much lower taxes than Silicon Valley, which have been shared to these big tech companies, among other businesses, looking to relocate.

“Well you’ve got a brand that has transformed itself over time. And when you bring in Tesla, that’s an advanced manufacturing company that is a technology company, so it’s part of the brand,” he says. “And you start adding to the ones that were here: the Microsofts, the Intuits and the others. And you start to see there’s a fairly good concentration of technology in this region.”

After Northern Nevada was hit by the Great Recession and cities all over the country were suffering, leaders in the state’s economy had to look at ways to diversify it. With the close proximity to the Bay Area, tech was a natural fit. They had to be strategic about attracting the companies and build up the local and national belief that the tech talent that these companies want to hire is here.

Daniel Price is the CEO of Breadware, an “Internet of Things” electronic development company that moved from Santa Barbara, California to Reno earlier this year. Reno won him over because of the low costs of living and the lack of state income taxes – he’s not alone.

“I know that a bunch of other businesses are either in that process, or considering it, and several of the startups or midsize businesses that I’ve met in Reno have had a similar story of moving in the past to Reno for those advantages,” he says.

The state of Nevada has also offered tax incentives to some companies, most notably the $1.3 billion package for the Tesla Gigafactory which is located at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center in Storey County. At this time, more than 1,000 local full-time employees work there and when construction is complete, they plan to employ 6,500.

While Silicon Valley has been producing tech culture for years and years, Nevada lawmakers are crafting an economic development plan to bolster this industry and it all began only six years ago. So really, the Silver State is just getting started.

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