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Business News: Manufacturing employment reaches 30,000 in Reno

By Bob Conrad
Reno Business Weekly

Nevada in May added 2,600 new jobs, marking a 7% increase in new jobs since May of 2021. The state’s unemployment rate is now at 4.9%, down .1 point from 5% in April and down nearly 3% from this time last year.

That’s according to data released this week by the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation. 

“I’m pleased to see that Nevadans are continuing to find work and that the employment figures reflect a growing diversity of businesses in the state,” said Gov. Steve Sisolak. “We remain committed to helping Nevada’s workers and employers connect to keep building a more resilient state.”

Reno-area employment saw an increase of 800 new jobs since April and now has 30,000 jobs in the manufacturing industry, said the state’s Chief Economist David Schmidt. That is up more than 14% since the start of the pandemic.

“The unemployment rate fell slightly, and the share of the population working or looking for work rose slightly to 60%,” Schmidt added.

State officials said these figures show Nevada’s annual employment growth rate “has been the fastest in the nation. Through April, Nevada’s growth rate was significantly faster than any other state in the nation, more than two percentage points faster than Texas and Florida (tied for #2). 

Gambling has seen a rebound in employment which is contributing to decreases in unemployment and job gains contributing to Nevada outperforming other states.

TMWA gets new general manager

By Kristen Hackbarth

The Truckee Meadows Water Authority’s Board of Directors on June 15 selected John Zimmerman as the water company’s next general manager. Zimmerman, who has been serving as the company’s assistant general manager since June 2021, will replace Mark Foree who plans to retire in October 2022.

John Zimmerman

Zimmerman has been with TMWA since 2016 and has extensive experience in water law, working to develop water policy with local, state, federal and Tribal governments. During his interview he said growing up on a family cattle ranch west of McDermitt helped him to learn teamwork and build work ethic and character.

“I believe in the statement attributed to Benjamin Franklin that well done is better than well said,” Zimmerman said during his interview while explaining that he prefers to lead by example. 

Several of TMWA’s leadership team provided public comment following Zimmerman’s interview in support of his being hired.  

“The overwhelming support for the new general manager is sitting right next to me,” Andy Gebhardt, a director at TMWA who’s been with the company for more than two decades, said. “Overwhelming support from the employees. They know he’s the right person for the job. They know he can carry forth the hard work that we’ve done and take us into the future.” 

Zimmerman was the lone interviewee during the TMWA board’s June 15 meeting after the remaining four finalists dropped out of the process. 

The agency’s human resources led the recruitment and received 22 applications from candidates locally and across the country. Five finalists were selected to interview, including Zimmerman. 

Three dropped out before the interviews – one due to concerns over board dynamics. Another came to Reno and toured TMWA facilities and the community, but withdrew from the process the morning of the interviews citing quality of life in the region. 

Board member Neoma Jardon requested details on what the cost and timeline would be for hiring a national search firm, but agreed with other board members that Zimmerman’s scheduled interview should proceed.

Board chair Vaughn Hartung said hiring has become increasingly difficult since the pandemic and a national search firm would likely not find a candidate pool any larger than what TMWA’s team had secured. He noted that during the hiring process for Washoe County Manager in 2019 the county paid a national search firm and only had three candidates to interview – two of whom were local. 

An employment contract for Zimmerman will be presented to the TMWA board at its July 21 meeting for approval.  

Events

Business news briefs

Estela Levario Gutierrez

TMCC’s Gutierrez receives recognition. Estela Levario Gutierrez, vice president of student services and diversity at Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC), was honored Friday at the Nevada Board of Regents meeting for 30 years of service. “Estela has been a steadfast student advocate over the past three decades who embodies the spirit of diversity, inclusion, equity and access in education,” said Joseph Arrascada, vice chair of the Board of Regents’ IDEA Committee. 

Kidder Mathews welcomes new director of engineering and sustainability. Heidi Ray brings 25 years of facilities, construction and maintenance experience in commercial building environments. She is responsible for Kidder Mathews’ building engineering teams and drives clients’ progressive energy management and sustainability initiative. “We are fortunate to have hired Heidi, as her background and leadership style is that of a client-first mentality,” said Paul Klink, president of Kidder Mathews asset and client services. 

Companies get millions in tax abatements. The Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) board approved seven companies to receive $53 million in tax abatements. The companies in return are required to create more than 1,000 jobs in the next two years at an average weighted hourly wage of $28. The companies will also make a capital investment of $490 million in the first two years of operation and generate $178 million in net new tax revenues over the next 10 years. “Nevada is continuing to attract quality companies that are creating great jobs for working families,” said Gov. Steve Sisolak.  

4-H volunteer recognized. Nevada’s Linda Zimmerman, 4-H volunteer for University of Nevada, Reno Extension for more than 34 years, is one of four 4-H volunteers nationally to have recently been named a 4-H Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer. Zimmerman was named the 4-H Western Region Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer as part of the 4‑H Salute to Excellence Awards for her dedication and service to Extension’s Washoe County 4-H horse program and support of youth statewide. “Linda understands some youth may struggle in different areas as they join 4-H or try to engage in activities or projects,” said Carrie Stark, Nevada’s 4-H state director. “She goes above and beyond to assist them, finding a way to help them with extra time, resources and meetings to overcome their struggles. She exemplifies positive youth-adult partnerships.”

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