Evolving beyond old stereotypes about loose slots, quick divorces, and rampant debauchery, Reno is aiming its sights on a more sustainable economic future, attracting a different kind of visitor. The city is currently courting Apple, Inc. with high-reward tax breaks in hopes of adding the technology giant, along with other high rolling tech companies, as prospective tenants to the Biggest Little Cityscape.
According to a New York Times article published in the paper yesterday, “Apple will open an office downtown in a new building that may house other technology companies the city is wooing.”
Although there has been debate on the legitimacy of purportedly large tax breaks used to reel in the tech supernova, the Times quoted Reno city manager Andrew Clinger as saying that this is a first step in what is hoped to be a long line of potential corporate residents.
“Attracting an international icon to Reno puts us on the map,” said Clinger. Mr. Clinger also noted “that the new building would also help change downtown’s landscape by replacing ‘seedy motels’ that are there now.”
Along with ourselves and other local redevelopment groups, Dacole LLC couldn’t agree more. Cofounder and president of Reno investment firm Dacole LLC, potential City Council Ward 1 candidate, and Friend of Marmot Bernie Carter is helping recreate what the downtown and newly evolving Midtown areas are all about.
“We’re attracting young professionals who want a vibrant downtown,” Carter said to the Reno News and Review in May, “no national chains, not even a Starbucks. We’re going to have small entrepreneurs to try and establish that sense of community that we think is so critical for attracting young professionals to our area.”
Apple might be just what this area needs to speed along such an evolution.
The Reno City Council Meeting on June 27, 2012 approved an agreement with Northern Nevada Urban Development & Management Company, LLC (NNUDMC) for the Tessera Tourism Improvement District. This agreement would provide a tax incentive for hooking certain occupants, namely Apple, Inc., with future hopes of bringing in other attractive “tenants, people, businesses, and economic activity to the District.”
And these are no small apples. According to the Reno City Council, Apple, Inc. will hire around 40 employees and up to 200 independent contractors, including people needed for the construction phase of their new office center, potentially impacting the community at large with positive economic run-off.
“Reno has been working to diversify its economic base,” Mayor Cashell said at the June 27th meeting. “This is a project in which we can all work together for the good of the whole. Apple will create jobs and brings millions of dollars to our community which will help everyone.”
Of course, Apple has more to gain than do-good job creation and a great office window view of the Sierras. According to the Reno Gazette Journal, Apple can stand to gain a series of tax cuts amounting to $89 million over the next ten years, much of which will come from the local government, reducing the tech giant’s tax burden by nearly 80 percent.
But for many, the favorable outcome of an in surge of high-impact economic growth for the Reno area is well worth the exchange.
Rich Miller, editor of Data Center Knowledge, a New Jersey-based publication that tracks this industry, was positively quoted in the RGJ with his thoughts on what a Reno landscape might look like, post-Apple. “I think the hope is a data center project will mark a region as a favorable area for high technology development,” Miller said. “A big project for Apple or Google or Microsoft will lead to other projects following, so you get a cluster of data centers forming.”
Like attracts like, or at least that’s the hope. With big players like Apple redefining what coming to the table in Reno looks like, it may be only a short time before our city becomes a popular destination for high-impact companies to bring much needed economic-drought relief. And with it, new soil for community developers like us Marmots to continue replanting and beautifying our city center. Your future’s looking great, Reno. Keep up the good work.