Though government and private sector efforts to relocate businesses from out-of-state are well intentioned, creating and nurturing an environment that supports local entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses is the essential key to job growth, members said.
The RJT is a collective of area public and private leaders. The team was formed in 2010 and is endorsed by the board of county commissioners.
More than two-thirds of all new jobs originate with start-ups, according to Ky Good, managing director of local business incubator C4Cube and an RJT member. Moreover, in 2010, venture capitalists nationwide invested more than $21 billion into 3,227 businesses.
All this means that with just a little investment, local companies can become national powerhouses.
But the northern Nevada market does have certain handicaps, namely the lack of a robust venture capital presence.
The blank slate isn’t all bad, however.
“We have an opportunity to do anything we want,” said Norman Smith, an entrepreneur with investing experience in Silicon Valley.
The region’s immediate proximity and ease of access to the San Francisco Bay Area make it a target market and potential job base for high-tech industries, said venture capitalist and angel investor Bill Burnham.
Of course, venture capitalists tend to engage in high-risk, high-reward deals.
But Sparks Councilman Ed Lawson has a financing idea that is akin to micro-loans.
Lawson wants to develop a local business-to-business lending program that can dole out $20,000 or $30,000 for startups and small businesses looking to expand.
The concept would bring together local businesses — Lawson hopes to get 1,000 owners on board — that would contribute small sums to a fund that will support other qualified businesses.
“I think we can raise $1 million in a few months,” he said.
In addition, Lawson believes that the businesses involved will support one another’s success by partnering for transactions.
The intensely local emphasis is what gives the idea its legs because residents and business owners in Sparks, Reno and Washoe County will be the first to benefit from its success. It also fits the mantra expressed at the RJT meeting about the need to grow the number of entrepreneurs in order to get the unemployed working again.
While big, established, statewide initiatives are looking to hit home runs in the field of economic development, Lawson said he was just hoping for hard-hit singles.