By Kristen Hackbarth
Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority CEO Daren Griffin on Tuesday told members of the Washoe Board of County Commissioners that air travel in the region is booming, nearly fully recovered from the pandemic and expected to continue growth into 2023.
The Reno-Tahoe International Airport is projected to have more than 4 million passengers traveling through this year, a slight decline from the 4.5 million in 2019 but far more than both 2020 and 2021.
In 2023, Griffin said he expects the airport will handle up to 4.7 million passengers.
“We came back a lot faster than a lot of other airports in 2021. Of course leisure travel led that resurgence,” he said. “We started coming back a lot faster than a lot of economists expected.”
Griffin said with booming air traffic and more people moving to the region, the airport will need to expand to handle more passengers, allow for more parking and accommodate a greater range of destinations and carriers.
“People are flying at greater volumes than we’ve ever seen,” he added, noting that people are more able to work remotely. “People have more freedom to travel with work… We see people staying in the parking lots much longer than they used to. It’s creating a lot of challenges for us with infrastructure.”
He shared details of MoreRNO, an improvement plan for the Reno-Tahoe International Airport that spans the next 18 years and is expected to cost nearly $1 billion.
“It’s a huge investment in infrastructure, but it won’t get cheaper or easier as we wait,” Griffin said. “If we don’t move this forward right now people in 2030 will be wondering what we were doing because we will be so far behind the curve at that point. A little bit of this is catch-up, a little bit is playing offense, and mostly it’s taking advantage of a great mindset at the federal level right now on the value of infrastructure investment.”
Expansion of the ticketing area has already begun and will include more indoor space for ticketing kiosks and technology, restrooms and public art.
Other projects in the works include a new parking garage with rental cars, shuttles and rideshares that Griffin said will be ready in 2025. The project will also add nearly 800 parking spaces to the airport, “which is something we desperately need right now,” he said.
Security features including bollards in front of the building and additional points of entry and exit in addition to Plumb Lane will also be added.
The biggest project, however, is replacing the existing concourses and their 23 gates, which are more than 40 years old. Griffin said aircraft from 40 years ago held far fewer people than the 737s of today, making for crowded gate areas.
“We need a lot more space than we have today,” he said. “Forty-two year old buildings are living on infrastructure that needs to be replaced. We did almost a two year analysis and ultimately the best decision here is to tear them down and build two new ones.”
Design for the concourses hasn’t begun, but the intent is to make them wider and taller with views of the mountains and natural light. Access to outdoor spaces will also be included, which he said is a more recent innovation in airport design.
Sponsored: The grand opening of the Reno Children’s Center Autism Therapy Services is Nov. 15. The brand Autism service provider offers full-day therapy services for children 2 to 6 and after-school skills groups for children up to age 12. The grand opening is free to attend. Learn more.
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Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce awards $10,000 in small business and educational grants. Zandi Salstrom Schlegel of Inspired Life Therapy in Reno and Brian “Paco” Alvarez of Psionic Art Works in Las Vegas were awarded $5,000 each by Cox Business for the 2022 Cox Business and Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Nevada grant program. Salstrom Schlegel said she plans to use the $5,000 small business grant to support a Queer and Now initiative to expand outreach to the LGBTQIA+ community in Nevada. Her nonprofit’s services support mind, body and spirit with queer-affirming therapists who create safe spaces for gender expression, gender identity and sexuality. Alvarez said he will use the $5,000 educational grant to pursue a Diversity and Inclusion Certificate from the Cornell University Certificate Program, which will enable Psionic Art Works to enhance its cultural diversity leadership training for individuals and businesses.
Columbia Sportswear opens at Summit mall. The outdoor apparel and footwear brand will host a ribbon cutting for its new Summit Shopping Center location Nov. 18 and offer grand opening deals through Dec. 11. Company officials said the location will be the largest Columbia brand store to date and the first of its kind in the Reno-Tahoe community, making it an extra special store for Nevadans to shop for gifts this holiday season. Russell Anderson, a Columbia vice president, said, “With the largest concentration of ski resorts in North America, Reno, Tahoe and Columbia Sportswear are a perfect fit. Whether you’re hitting the slopes at Diamond Peak, taking the family for some fresh air along Tom Cooke Trail, or gearing up for an overnight in the Sierras – Columbia’s performance apparel, footwear and accessories will ensure you stay warm, dry, cool, and protected.”
nZero Named to TIME’s list of the Best Inventions of 2022. nZero, formerly known as Ledger8760, was recently named to TIME’s annual Best Inventions List in the sustainability category. The Reno-headquartered company offers a platform for near real time (NRT) tracking of carbon data and analysis of sustainability measures including energy, financial and greenhouse gas emissions data. TIME recognized nZero on the list for its groundbreaking contributions to the climate technology space, due to the technology’s ability to track, analyze and manage carbon emissions data on a granular level. The State of Nevada, City of Reno and Washoe County signed on with nZero in 2021 to track carbon emissions in an effort to meet climate goals.
Nevada Association of School Boards honors School District board president and staff member. WCSD Board of Trustees President Angie Taylor was honored as the 2022 NASB Veteran School Board Member of the Year. Jennifer “JJ” Batchelder, who serves as board services coordinator, was honored as Board Support Staff Person of the Year. In the nomination materials Taylor’s dedication to the district was highlighted: “During her nearly eight years of service to our Board, Dr. Taylor has been heartily involved in two superintendent searches, serious budget deficits and implementation of a balanced budget – which has been accomplished for four consecutive years – impacts of a diverse and growing community and a global COVID pandemic.” Batchelder has been in her role since 2013 and was nominated for her “outstanding organizational work during complicated Board meetings, and her willingness to offer help to staff, trustees and members of the community.”
GOWINN hires Esmeralda Villeda and Katie Gilbertson. The Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation has hired Esmeralda Villeda to the position of Policy, Communications, and Community Outreach Manager, and Katie Gilbertson to the position of Program Development, Public Policy, and Community Engagement Manager. A Nevada native, Villeda is a first-generation Mexican American, a first-generation high school graduate at Rancho and the first in her family to attend college. Prior to joining GOWINN, she started a small business in real estate becoming one of the top realtors in her field. Her background in real estate, a small business owner, and service on the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals board gives her insight to the kinds of policy issues the Nevada labor force and business community face. Villeda also worked in the hospitality industry where she led successful workforce training and mentoring programs. Gilbertson moved from Sparks to Las Vegas to attend the University of Nevada, Las Vegas , where she earned her degree in economics and minor in Brookings Public Policy. Prior to joining GOWINN, she served as an analyst with economics firm Applied Analysis, worked in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and was a policy researcher with think tanks including The Lincy Institute and Brookings Mountain West.
U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis: Nevada’s outdoor recreation economy is surging. Economic data from 2021 shows that outdoor recreation in the state added $4.9 billion to the economy and supported nearly 51,000 jobs – about 3.6% of employment statewide. Growing categories within the outdoor recreation sector include RVing, motorcycling and ATVing, climbing, hiking and camping. “Nevada’s outdoor recreation economy came roaring back in 2021, reflecting Nevadans’ growing interest in and support of outdoor recreation in the state,” said Colin Robertson, administrator of the Nevada Division of Outdoor Recreation. “As part of our mission, the Nevada Division of Outdoor Recreation looks forward to continuing to work side-by-side with our many partners to support outdoor businesses and nonprofits of all sizes, while driving a vibrant, sustainable, equitable outdoor sector for Nevada.”
Nevada Board of Examiners approves talent retention program. The Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development received approval today from the Nevada Board of Examiners to contract with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and University of Nevada, Reno using $4 million to stand up a program to retain top science and engineering talent in Nevada. The program was initially approved by the Nevada Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee in October. The funding comes from a 2019 settlement with T-Mobile that included a charitable contribution of $30 million earmarked for enhancing entrepreneurial opportunities for women, minorities, and women and minority-owned businesses.