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More jobs, more unemployment in November

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More people are entering the workforce, according to experts at Nevada’s Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) in their November 2022 economic report. 

Over the month, Nevada gained 5,300 jobs statewide, but Reno saw a decline, losing 300 jobs since October. Despite the one-month drop, Reno has still added 8,500 jobs since November 2021 to reach a 3.4% gain in total jobs available. 

Unemployment, however, increased to 4.9% statewide, up from 4.6% in October and up half a percent in the last two months. 

“While this is a significant increase, it has been caused by people entering the labor force – more people who were previously not actively looking for work began looking for work in November,” Chief Economist David Schmidt said. “The number of unemployed individuals rose and the share of the population either working or looking for work passed 61% for the first time this year.”

Meanwhile, DETR is also working to modernize the state’s creaky unemployment insurance system, which during the pandemic became a major headache for the department. The effort is intended to make the process of filing for unemployment easier for Nevadans. 

The Board of Examiners approved the start of building the new system, which is expected to take up to four years and $72 million in ARPA funds to complete. In addition to improved efficiency and staff usability, the new system will collect unemployment taxes, pay out benefits to eligible claimants and handle appeals. 

It’s also being designed with “tough economic times” and fraud in mind. 

“The UI Modernization project kicking off soon is going to be a huge leap forward. This will make it significantly easier for eligible Nevadans to get paid the benefits they need. It will be a boost for businesses to track payments and claims. And it will make this work easier for staff,” said DETR Director, Elisa Cafferata.

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Francine Burge joins Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs as public relations manager. Burge will work with the Division of Museums and History, Nevada Arts Council, and Nevada Indian Commission, elevating awareness of the work of the agencies and strengthening communications. She has more than 30 years of experience in marketing, media and events having worked for the City of Sparks and Reno Philharmonic Orchestra. In her role with the City of Sparks she established the city’s first Arts and Culture Advisory Committee to expand and define the role of art and culture within the city. This work led to the 2017 Creative Placemaking Plan for the downtown district, funded by a coveted National Endowment for the Arts “Our Town” Grant. She currently serves on the boards of the Sierra Arts Foundation and the EDAWN Foundation and volunteers with the Women and Children Center of the Sierra and Reno Women’s March/What Can I Do. 

Friends of Nevada Wilderness honored its outstanding volunteers and supporters at the annual Wingding at Rancho San Rafael. Organizers said they didn’t have time to read off the names of every person who donated time, money and energy in 2022. “We would have been there all night in order to recognize and personally thank everyone who supported our organization over the past year,” Executive Director Shaaron Netherton said after the event. Friends presented the coveted Blue Helmet Award to 13 volunteers who for the first time put in 30 hours or more of volunteer time in 2022. The Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Bob Ralston who put in more than 150 hours on overnight stewardship projects across Northern Nevada for a total of more than 500 hours on Friends projects over the years. Other awards include: Kathy Torrence of the Bureau of Land Management’s Black Rock Field Office as Agency Partner of the Year; Lucy Moreton-Hall and David Book as Champions of Northern Nevada Stewardship for their generous financial support; NV Energy as Corporate Partner of the Year; Jason Weiss and Dan Johnson as Above and Beyond Awards; and John Drakulich with the Marge Sill Wilderness Legacy Award. 

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The City of Reno unveiled a makeover of City Plaza in April 2022 with more sustainable, drought-tolerant and bee-friendly landscaping. Image: Ty O’Neil / This Is Reno

City of Reno certified LEED Gold and recognized for sustainability and resilience achievements. The city is part of a growing group of cities – more than 130 – recognized using the LEED rating system, a measure of sustainability for human and environmental health. Some of the elements that factored into Reno’s certification include gas emissions performance, green spaces, water management, resilience planning and environmental justice focus

University of Nevada, Reno will host the Cattlemen’s Update Jan. 9-13 in person and virtually to provide market and research updates. The event will be virtual Jan. 9, then in-person at four locations across the state the following days. Experts from UNR’s College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources and its Extension and Experiment Station units will present on topics related to the efficiency, productivity, profitability and sustainability of their businesses and Nevada’s cattle industry. The five-day event is offered virtually on Jan. 9  and then in person at four locations across the state: Fallon, Ely, Elko and Winnemucca. For more information, contact Staci Emm, Extension educator for Mineral County and the event’s organizer, at [email protected], 775-475-4227 or 775-312-0424; or Jamie Lee, at [email protected] or 775-426-8299. 

Five-student robotics team from Kate Smith Elementary School takes top honors in Lego League Challenge. The PAWSitive Robotics Team engineered a robot that competed in a variety of Lego challenges and created an innovative community project which they presented to the panel of judges to earn first place in the competition. They competed against 21 other teams in the competition. The goal of the competition is to introduce students ages 4-14 to science, technology, engineering and math. The team consists of fifth-graders Kassandra Gomez Garcia, Josmary Cortes Lupercio, Alexa Garcia Romano, Fatima Gomez Garcia and Mercedes Aquino Estrada. Faculty advisors for the team are Marie Scilacci, Jillian Welch and Megan Tilton. They will participate in the Northern Nevada Championship on February 4 in Carson City.

The Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) is looking to recruit, train and improve the skills of women, minorities, and disadvantaged individuals in heavy civil construction. On-The-Job Training program (OJT)  is working to increase opportunities for women and minorities to access higher paying skilled trade jobs. The organization says it will cover the training costs, up to $5,500 value, for the first 15 qualified candidates. The goal is to develop full journey-workers who can go on to work for NDOT. Visit the OJT4NV website that assists with recruitment. 

State invests in health care workforce, housing, school children during final Interim Finance meeting in 2022. Legislators on the Interim Finance Committee approved more than $35 million in back pay for state employees who were furloughed in 2021 because of pandemic cutbacks. The funds are part of American Rescue Plan dollars that came to the state from the federal government. Additional distributions of ARP funds approved by the Interim Finance Committee include: 

  • $10 million to support the start up phase of the College of Medicine at Roseman University. Once operational, the College of Medicine will serve the most vulnerable populations in Southern Nevada and eventually is expected to graduate 100 physicians annually. 
  • $11 million to fund affordable housing units in a mixed-use project in the Historic Westside of Las Vegas along with a Microbusiness Park to provide amenities and economic opportunities for residents of the housing development. The Microbusiness Park will be a catalyst for economic development and revitalization in the community by supporting new or growing local businesses.  
  • $28 million to support an additional year of universal free school meals for Nevada school children during the 2023-2024 school year.  
  • $109 million to continue the Homeowner Assistance Fund program. The program offers mortgage assistance to homeowners who suffered a financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic. 
A rendering of the Marvel Way Project, a 3-story, 42-unit residential facility being built by The Empowerment Center.
A rendering of the Marvel Way Project, a 3-story, 42-unit residential facility being built by The Empowerment Center. Image: The Empowerment Center

First Independent Bank donates $10,000 to The Empowerment Center. The Empowerment Center is northern Nevada’s only 120-day substance abuse program specifically for women and can house up to 34 clients in its live-in facility. The funds will be used to pay for a wide range of essentials such as clothing, bedding, hygiene products, and general financial support to help maintain and operate the facility. Additionally, bankers with First Independent Bank will work directly with clients to provide financial literacy education. The Empowerment Center is also working to expand its operations with a second live-in facility under construction.

Travel Nevada selects six rural partners to build their tourism appeal through its new Destination Development Demonstration (3D) Program. The 3D Program is a $2 million project that will roll out in two phases. In January, three of the six partners will begin their projects by working with an expert to create a 10-year plan to develop their appeal to visitors and expand their economies through tourism. The remaining three partners will begin their work in September 2023. Chosen projects include:

  • White Pine County, positioning the county as the year-round basecamp for outdoor recreation when exploring eastern Nevada.
  • Friends of Black Rock, building a Black Rock Country Welcome Center that celebrates its tourism assets and leans into the area’s unique and colorful history.
  • Lincoln County, increasing community support for funding and technical assistance, capitalize on existing assets, and enhance and expand tourism services, amenities, and wayfinding.
  • Nevada’s Indian Territory, strengthening cultural awareness and identity and establishing itineraries and tours representative of Great Basin Tribes for domestic and international travelers.
  • Carson City/Carson Valley/Virginia City, creating a compelling visitor experience around their shared arts and culture attractions, galleries, and studios and creating opportunities to connect local artisans with visitors.
  • Boulder City, positioning itself as a hub for visitors of all ages and abilities, especially visitors from Las Vegas, to connect with outdoor adventure opportunities throughout the region.

Whitney Peak Hotel launches ‘major refresh’ to update guest rooms and technology. Hotel Manager Niki Gross says all 310 guest rooms in the hotel will be updated, the first time they’ve been redone since the hotel opened in 2014. She added that the goal is to make the hotel more “elevated and sophisticated, yet still accessible.” Planned technology updates include mobile (digital) room keys; larger in-room TVs with streaming services; and updated internet cabling for faster Wi-Fi speeds. Renovations are planned to be complete by summer 2023 and the hotel will remain open and operational during the renovations.

Fans arriving for sun-splashed Reno Aces day baseball vs Sacramento at Greater Nevada Field on 6–29-22 (Michael Smyth / This is Reno)

Nevada Tobacco Control and Smoke-free Coalition awards seven in its annual Community Champion Awards. The tobacco and vape prevention organization each year recognizes people, organizations, businesses and elected officials who have helped to promote and advance the coalition’s mission by advocating to eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke and vape emissions, expanding access to cessation, and reducing commercial tobacco use. This year’s Community Champion Award winners include:

  • Eric Crosbie, Associate Professor at UNR’s School of Public Health, who together with UNR students and Washoe County Health District staff, conducted air quality monitoring in non-exempt areas of casinos in Reno-Sparks.
  • Reno Aces, which in April 2022 adopted a smoke-free and vape-free policy inside Greater Nevada Field, prioritizing the health of their fans, employees, and players.
  • Attorney General Aaron Ford and Deputy Attorneys General, who introduced ongoing legislation supporting the AG’s Office Tobacco Enforcement Unit to combat increasing retail sales violations to Nevada’s youth, and for supporting raising the minimum sales age of tobacco products to 21 in the 2021 Nevada legislative session.
  • Park MGM, the first and only casino on the Las Vegas Strip to adopt a voluntary smoke-free policy, banning both smoking and vaping throughout the hotel and casino property.
  • Las Vegas Aviators and Las Vegas Lights FC, who in 2022 both adopted a voluntary smoke-free policy to ban smoking and vaping at all home games hosted at the Las Vegas Ballpark and at Cashman Field in Las Vegas.
  • Ender Austin III, a student at UNLV who has volunteered and served as a community liaison and representative for tobacco prevention and awareness initiatives that focused on educating the African American community on the dangers of tobacco use in southern Nevada.

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