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Tech Companies, High-Skill Workforce Priorities For Reno-Sparks Development Agency

Associated Press

Reno is poised to step up its tech game.

Mike Kazmierski, the president and CEO of  the Economic Development Agency of Western Nevada, or EDAWN, says the community is moving beyond data centers to luring companies that require higher-skilled employees.

“Right now, we have two major focus areas that is: to attract and to continue to attract great tech companies to the region while we work to upgrade attract workforce to accommodate those new jobs,” he told KNPR's State of Nevada.

An example is MOBE, a medical technology company that recently announced plans to open a 300-person co-headquarters in Reno later this year, said Kazmierski.

He said MOBE is an example of the type of company being created in the fourth industrial revolution. He said those companies use artificial intelligence, robotics, blockchain, medical technology, and other next-generation technologies to make money. 

“So, if we don’t bring the next generation of jobs in and grow them, the people in this community will not have a quality of life they need,” he said.

And while a lot has been said about Tesla and its gigafactory, Kazmierski said the factory only accounts for about 4 percent of the jobs in the region. 

He said EDAWN has brought 200 new companies to the region that are creating jobs but not getting much fanfare.

“Telsa is a wonderful company doing amazing things up here but is one of many companies that are changing the economy making us diversified so that we will weather the next recession quite well,” Kazmierski said.

It's not just well-known companies and established corporations that EDAWN is working to attract. It is also putting efforts into supporting and connecting startups. 

“We see the support for and growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the north as one of the major emphasis of the economic development resources and our priority in the updated strategic plan," Kazmierski said.

But to execute that strategic plan, Kazmierski said Nevada needs to do a better job educating its young people.

“We’ve got to have an educated workforce or we will fail as a state,” he told State of Nevada. “So, at some point, we as a state, need to say the most important thing is the education of our kids.”

EDAWN is working to attract talented workers to the state, but he would really like to see the workforce come from Nevada's schools.

Mike Kazmierski, President and CEO, Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada

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