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Business News: Reno’s economy among tops in U.S.

By John Seelmeyer

Reno once again ranks as one of the economically best-performing cities in the United States, and its star is rising.

The Milken Institute, a think tank headquartered in Los Angeles, reported recently that Reno ranks fourth in the nation in economic performance among 200 large metropolitan areas. That’s up from the 11th-place ranking for Reno in last year’s study of Best-Performing Cities.

The rise of Reno is particularly noteworthy because it’s an indication that non-traditional tech and employment centers are rising into prominent places in the U.S. economy, said Kevin Klowden, executive director of the Milken Institute Center for Regional Economics.

He noted that the fast-growing technology sector in Reno ranges from Tesla’s Gigafactory to a cluster of data centers to a thriving logistics and drone sector.

Those new jobs are diversifying the region’s economy beyond its traditional reliance on distribution and tourism.

On the other hand, the Milken research noted that home prices in the Reno area remain high in comparison to wages, and Reno is among the least-affordable places in the country. That poses a threat, researchers said, both to retention of current workers as well as future economic growth.

The annual Milken Institute rankings are based on job growth, wage growth and measurements of innovation-industry metrics. The results help investors and policymakers understand what parts of the nation are prospering and the reasons for their success.

The newest study found that the San Francisco region has the strongest economy in the nation, followed by Provo, Utah, in second place, and the Austin-Round Rock region of Texas in third. 

Along with Reno, other strong-performing mid-sized cities include Boise (ranked seventh) and Melbourne, Fla. The Florida city, ranked 10th, has a strong defense industry.

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The Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Board of Regents awarded the 2020 Rising Researcher Award to Mark Hausner, Ph.D. — This honor is given annually to researchers from DRI, the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) based on early-career accomplishments and potential for future advancement and recognition in research.  Hausner is an assistant research professor with DRI’s Division of Hydrologic Sciences, and specializes in ecohydrology, the study of interactions between water and ecological systems. 

– Compiled by Darcy Lenardson