Reno: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Tourism is the major industry in the Reno area. The hotel and casino industry attracts more than five million visitors annually and adds over $4 billion to the local economy each year. The business climate also has a strong presence in manufacturing and logistics in industries such as computers, electronics, financial services, and communications. This diversity supports the thriving local economy and includes a wide range of restaurants and retail options. The nearby mountains draw many tourists to the highest concentration of ski resorts in America, and contribute to the unlimited year-round recreational opportunities

Items and goods produced: cement, labeling devices, suntan lotion, valves, dairy and food products, pet food, microwaves, electronic equipment, livestock, agricultural produce

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

Because a majority of tax revenues in Nevada are generated from the tourism and gaming industries, Nevada's tax burden is one of the lightest in the nation. Nevada is one of only seven states without a personal income tax and one of only three without a corporate income tax. New and expanding companies can benefit from several different programs including sales and use tax abatements and deferrals, personal property tax abatements, business tax abatements, and the Train Employees Now program that assists in defraying the cost of training new employees. All programs have conditions and criteria that a company must meet in order to qualify; for example, minimum capital investment, minimum number of jobs created, minimum wage requirements, and a health plan available to employees and dependants. Application for all incentives must be made to the Nevada State Commission on Economic Development.

Job training programs

The Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation offers job training services to both employers and job seekers, including applicant recruitment and screening, tax credit benefits, training programs and career enhancement programs, and labor market information. The Train Employees Now (TEN) program, administered by the State of Nevada Commission on Economic Development, helps new and expanding firms by providing intensive skills-based training programs tailored to the company's needs. The TEN program utilizes training providers such as local businesses and community colleges. Job Opportunities in Nevada (JOIN) works to ensure that companies have an adequate workforce while offering training and educational opportunities for job seekers; Nevadaworks assists employers in developing employees' skills. The public school district's Glenn Hare Occupational Center provides training in areas identified by local employers. Training, recruiting, and continuing education resources in Reno also include Truckee Meadows Community College and the University of Nevada, Reno. Several other educational programs are geared toward meeting the needs of employers such as the Nevada Prepaid Tuition Program, the Millennium Scholarship Plan, and the Technology Center programs.

Development Projects

The city of Reno is rolling with economic development in the downtown area and the local government actively creates plans to ensure progress continues. One example is the $65 million, 118,000-square-foot Reno Events Center whose debut in late 2005 will broaden Reno's already prosperous appeal as a convention draw. Also critical to the success of the area is a long-anticipated plan to build depressed railroad tracks, named ReTRAC, to facilitate travel. Discussed for many decades, the construction, scheduled for completion in early 2006, is estimated to have an overall $360 million economic impact.

The Washoe Medical Center expanded in 2004 with the acute care facility South Meadows, which represented the first community hospital to open in the area in about two decades. In spring 2005 the Washoe County Library system added the new $6.3 million, 30,000-square-foot Spanish Springs branch library.

Economic Development Information: Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN), 5190 Neil Rd., Ste. 111, Reno, NV 89502; telephone (702)829-3700; fax (702)829-3710; email

Commercial Shipping

Reno/Sparks is situated at the hub of an extensive transportation network. Nevada borders five western states and provides overnight ground service to most of the West Coast major markets.

The area is also located on two major highway corridors: Interstate 80 and US 395. Currently, over 60 local, regional and national carriers provide trucking service in the Reno/Sparks area including the 167,000-square-foot United Parcel Service (UPS) regional package-sorting hub in Sparks. Rail freight service is provided by Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific Railroads.

The Reno/Tahoe International Airport is among the nation's busiest airports with 90 daily departures to about two dozen nonstop U.S. destinations. Air Cargo in the Reno/Sparks area handles approximately 291,000 pounds daily with a total of more than 106 million pounds in 2004.

The Reno/Sparks foreign trade zones are popular to business, as they provide economically favorable conditions and operational flexibility. Currently, Reno/Sparks has eight sites with more than 7,500 acres of building space.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

The availability of skilled workers and competitive compensation levels makes the Reno/Sparks area especially attractive to new businesses. More than 20,000 students attend the five colleges in the area. State-supported training programs and pro-business policies have helped make Nevada the fastest growing state in the nation. As a right-to-work state, Nevada's law states that no person shall be denied the opportunity to obtain or retain employment because of non-membership in a labor organization.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Reno metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of non-agricultural labor force: 208,500

Number of workers employed in . . .

natural resources and mining: 400

construction: 19,800

manufacturing: 14,000

trade, transportation, and utilities: 43,600

information: 3,100

financial activities: 10,700

professional and business services: 23,600

educational and health services: 19,300

leisure and hospitality: 39,000

other services: 7,500

government: 27,200

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $14.60 (Nevada average)

Unemployment rate: 10.5% (January 2005)

Reno: Economy

Largest county employers Number of employees
Washoe County School District 7,500–7,999
University of Nevada, Reno 4,000–4,499
Washoe County Government 2,500–2,999
International Game Technology 2,500–2,599
Washoe Medical Center, Inc. 2,000–2,499
Silver Legacy Resort Casino 2,000–2,499
Reno Hilton (casino) 1,500–1,999
Eldorado Hotel & Casino 1,500–1,999
Peppermill Hotel Casino-Reno 1,500–1,999

Cost of Living

The following is a summary of data regarding key cost of living factors for the Reno area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $290,000

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 106.1 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: None

State sales tax rate: 6.5% (food and prescription drugs are exempt)

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 0.875%

Property tax rate: $3.64 per $100 assessed value

Economic Information: Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN), 5190 Neil Rd., Ste. 111, Reno, NV 89502; telephone (702)829-3700; fax (702)829-3710; email Nevada Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation, Information Development and Processing, Research and Analysis Bureau, 500 E. Third St., Carson City, NV 89713; telephone (775)684-3849; fax (775)684-3850; email