Housing headaches, growth top list of Reno business stories to watch in 2018
After going through the toughest recession in its history, Northern Nevada has seen its fair share of economic development victories. Here's a list of some of the major developments for the region in recent years.
How would you rate your housing situation? What are the plans of tech giants Apple and Google for Northern Nevada?
As 2017 comes to a close, there are a lot of topics both new and old worth keeping in mind in the coming year.
From housing and new companies to healthcare and immigration, here’s a list of key business-related stories to watch out for in 2018.
The rising cost of housing in the last few years is making home ownership a tough proposition for Reno home buyers. We look at what’s fueling the Biggest Little City’s housing crisis and potential options for people looking for a new place to call home
A housing crisis
Housing was the big story for Northern Nevada in 2017.
Thanks to robust growth and Reno-Sparks’ continued penchant for attracting big name companies, the area’s real estate sector has managed to recover from the housing bubble’s collapse during the recession.
While house prices skyrocketed back up in the last few years, however, wages have yet to see a similar rate of increase.
The median household income in Reno, which has hovered around $50,000 to $55,000, can no longer comfortably afford the city’s median house price, which was at $363,250 in October. Add strong housing demand not just from locals but also new residents moving to the area and Reno found itself in the midst of a housing crunch last year.
Renters are also feeling the squeeze thanks to surging rents as the market adjusts to its record-low vacancies. Reno also topped off 2017 with the fourth-highest increase in rents in the nation at the end of the year.
Groups such as the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada are already advising companies interested in coming to Reno to pay a certain amount of salary in order to be competitive but it remains to be seen if area wages keep pace with housing costs.
With no relief in sight, housing affordability will continue to be a big issue that affects many area residents in 2018. The wildcard will be the tax reform package being reconciled in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. If the law passes, mortgage interest deductions likely will be affected, with the National Association of Realtors already predicting home values to decline as a result. Nevada, however, will not be hit as hard as other states like California because it lacks a state income tax.
If they build it
Northern Nevada has seen a nice string of big-name arrivals in the last few years.
The latest is Google, which bought 1,210 acres of land near Tesla’s Gigafactory at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center east of Reno-Sparks.
Understandably, there’s a lot of interest in what exactly the company plans to build at its new space. Although many hoped for a test site for Waymo’s driverless cars, the smart money is currently on a new data center.
Speaking of data centers, the company that kicked off the arrival of big-name tech firms after it received approval for $89 million in tax abatements in 2012, is eyeing significant expansion. Apple just bought the remaining open land at Reno Technology Park, where it continues to expand its data center campus. The company also purchased land for a long-planned facility in downtown Reno, a requirement for the company to fully benefit from those tax breaks it negotiated for.
The secretive company should show more of its cards regarding both sites in 2018 as construction starts for its new projects.
Another potential project that can have an impact in 2018 is Amazon’s proposed HQ2 headquarters. Nevada is interested in housing the facility in Las Vegas but faces stiff competition from 238 other applicants. In the meantime, the application is also crossing over to the drone space, where Amazon is in competition with Nevada drone companies.
Monarch Casino & Resort CEO John Farahi once called the lack of events at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center “pathetic.”
Farahi, however, ended 2017 in a jovial mood after the convention center — which is located right next to his property, the Atlantis Casino Resort — became the recipient of two big convention announcements for Reno.
First is the return of the Safari Club International Convention to Reno in 2019 after a multi-year absence. The other is the arrival of Interbike, which will hold its first event in Reno in 2018. Interbike, which is traditionally held in Las Vegas, agreed to a five-year deal in Reno and will be the largest convention ever held in the city.
Despite those two victories, 2017 also cast a spotlight on Reno’s lack of convention space for larger events after it failed in its application to land Outdoor Retailer, which went to Denver. The Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors is now looking to expand its main convention center so it will be big enough to realistically accommodate about 80 percent of the conventions held in North America.
The question now is whether the success with Safari Club and Interbike are exceptions to the rule or a sign of things to come.
Republicans may have received two strikes after whiffing on healthcare legislation.
The party, however, appears ready to at least net a base hit after adding the removal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate — which requires people to get health insurance — to the tax bill being reconciled in both houses of Congress as of this article’s writing.
Efforts to squeeze the law also known as “Obamacare,” meanwhile, is fueling concerns that it might wither on the vine, which is already causing issues in states such as Nevada as some insurers leave the marketplace due to uncertainty.
As something that affects consumers and small businesses, the fate of the healthcare law is something to watch in 2018.
Ogenloyd Bryan Lopez Silva, 26 and Clark Dixon Ravanes, 20, sit down with the RGJ to talk about their summer experience working in Reno, Nev., USA.
Congress has already tried to tackle two big issues in President Donald Trump’s first year: healthcare and taxes.
There’s still one big issue left in the triumvirate of hot-button topics in politics: immigration.
Immigration continues to be a polarizing issue that garners strong emotions across party lines.
With Republicans eager to secure legislative wins with their majority, Democrats aiming to regain seats in upcoming elections, and corporate America calling for immigration reform, it wouldn’t be surprising if it becomes the next big issue that government tackles in 2018.
It’s also something that Nevada, with its large immigrant population, will be paying close attention to.