HAWTHORNE — The Stronger Economies Together (SET) Team met in Hawthorne July 11, where members learned about regional “star industries,” as well as economic “leakages” of products and services that are getting developed elsewhere.
“This is the key to turning the regional economy around,” said Dr. Tom Harris, who is director of the UNR Center for Economic Development.
“If we can identify the gaps, and then plug the leakages by producing these products and services inside the region, we can staunch the flow of dollars that is currently moving outside of the area.”
A variety of pointers about successful economic regions were shared. The Silicon Valley Index Measures for Success includes population growth, educational attainment, increasing employment and a diverse set of occupational skills as indications of a successful economic region.
The WNDD region shares one of those attributes: the region grew by 15 percent from 2000-2010, currently the population of this 8-county area is 211,191 people, but employment has been decreasing and the occupational skill set is limited. The percent of people with college degrees is 18 percent in the region compared to 28 percent statewide.
Harris talked about how economic development through enhancing the livability of an area, keeping more money in a community, buying more products locally, and enhancing the internal culture and environment is different than economic development through growth alone.
Dr. Harris described two strategies for communities to use to support targeted industries: Import Substitution and Export Enhancement.
Import substitution seeks to reduce money outflows from a region by creating economic development opportunities to fill the demands for goods and services using businesses and services within the region. For instance, if a manufacturer is operating in Carson Valley but importing parts from the Bay Area, the job of regional economic development is to identify what the business needs are, what core processes are required to fill that need, then match the business with a local manufacturer or service to fill that need.
Shelley Hartmann, of the Mineral County Economic Development Authority has been working on a Regional Foods Network to enhance availability of Hawthorne’s locally grown foods, and is exploring opportunities to work with the Hawthorne Munitions Depot on that project. Export enhancement seeks to identify those economic sectors, as described by the Southern Region Development Center, which the WNDD region has been relatively successful in nurturing and attracting to the area.
These sectors are defined as STAR clusters. STAR clusters of WNDD are those clusters that are specialized in the region as compared to the nation and have realized increasing employment growth from 2006 to 2011. The STAR clusters are: The Business and Finance Cluster; the Biomedical Cluster; the Transportation and Logistic Cluster; and the Defense Cluster.
The SET Team focused on collaboration and networking as the third strategy to support economic development at the regional level. Results of a computerized survey depicted the strengths and weaknesses of the current communications network within the SET Team. Medical professionals and workforce development involvement appears to be greatly reduced, but governmental and economic development capacity was strong.
The next Stronger Economies Together Team meeting will be held August 8 in Winnemucca. The focus will be on Exploring Regional Assets and Barriers. For more information, visit the Nevada SET website at http://www.unce.unr.edu/programs/sites/set/ or call Carl Dahlen at 775-230-0075.