After last week’s announcement, we have the promise of a massive, higher wage-paying employer entering the northern Nevada roster of corporate citizens. But if you don’t end up with or want one of Tesla’s jobs, what does this mean to the 98% of northern Nevadans who won’t be wearing the spiffy Tesla uniforms as they build new age lithium batteries for the newest form of (semi) mass transportation in a century?
Before we get to that, let me share a story. I was an outspoken skeptic when the hype came out in 2013 about Barrett-Jackson, the new car auction vendor arranged by Hot August Nights. So what, I thought. Does anyone really care who is hyping the cars and coaxing that last thousand out of the delirious bidders? As it happens, a lot of people do care – and they care a lot. The Barrett-Jackson road show brought newfound energy, excitement and most importantly, television exposure to northern Nevada in 2013. In 2014, it brought even broader and better quality television exposure, with over 20 hours of live northern Nevada coverage broadcasted over three days. Additionally, local hospitality operators reported more suites being rented faster, more steak house meals being ordered and less buffets. In other words, a different type of car enthusiast was in Reno than had been drawn here in previous years – the type of person who is more likely to manage, operate or even own a business and just might be impressed with the area. The takeway from this little tale is this – the intangible impact of having national class operations in our hometown is significant.
When we apply that reasoning to the Tesla program here, the ripple effect quickly becomes so widespread, it’s difficult to begin to quantify it. Adding the Tesla name to Apple is starting to make an even stronger impact. Firms have to wonder what they are missing by not looking into northern Nevada as a region from which to operate. (And if that applies to you, I welcome the opportunity to assist you with the relocation or expansion of your business here.) Of course, the economic multiplier effect of one new job creating three to four additional jobs starts to show the ripple effect of those promised 6,500 new jobs as well. A new employee moving into northern Nevada to work at Tesla brings his family. Those people eat groceries, need clothes, go to school and drive cars.
But any new large employer will achieve that multiplier impact. Tesla brings more. It brings the promise of a cutting-edge manufactured product, one that will help transform modern transportation. It’s a product the Tesla employees can genuinely feel proud to make and be a part of, one that will help conserve precious resources and help clean out the environment. It’s a product that moves the planet toward a more sustainable world. This is exciting stuff. This new northern Nevada plant will be written and spoken about internationally – and all in a very positive manner. Just like you can’t buy the exposure that Barrett-Jackson provides during those three days in August, you cannot buy the press northern Nevada will get from this Tesla deal.
So back to the point of this post – what does the Tesla deal mean to the northern Nevada locals who won’t be working there? It means we can see our housing market solidly get back to its feet. It means a highly desirable high-tech employer based locally, all the more incentive to keep our bright college graduates in the area. Sooner or later, it will mean a deeper tax base for state and local agencies. And it means we all can walk a little taller when we are traveling anywhere, because we have something no one anywhere else has. Be proud of that and be glad you were alive and saw it happen firsthand, because it will be a historical event that is never forgotten.