Northern NV business: Tesla effect to ripple for decades
October 13, 2014
RENO, Nev. — The economic ripples from Tesla's gigafactory are expected to bring more than 4,100 jobs to the Reno-Sparks area and another 764 jobs to Carson City during the next 20 years.
Those estimates from State Demographer Jeff Hardcastle last week don't include any residents of the cities who actually will be working at the battery-making plant.
Hardcastle, making his annual estimates of population growth, said effects of the Tesla plant are likely to ripple widely across the area's economy.
As the estimated 6,500 workers at the Tesla plant spend money on everything from health care to dog food, employers across the region will be adding new jobs.
To provide a sense of scale to the 4,100 jobs created by the Tesla ripple in Reno and Sparks, that's like adding another JA Nugget, Truckee Meadows Community College and Saint Mary's to the area's pool of paychecks.
(The jobs at the plant itself won't be counted as part of the total for Reno, Sparks or Carson City. They'll be attributed to Storey County, no matter where the workers live.)
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If anything, Hardcastle said, his estimates of the Tesla-related ripple may be too low.
And he notes that much will depend on where Tesla employees live.
The state demographer uses a sophisticated software tool created by Regional Economics Model Inc. to estimate the effects of basic employers — the companies that bring fresh dollars to town and drive the economy.
Among the factors that Hardcastle plugs into the model are the historical commuting patterns around the region. But the planned construction of USA Parkway from Tahoe Reno Industrial Center to Highway 50 at Silver Springs is likely to change those patterns.
In Lyon County, where both Fernley and Dayton are expected to feel big effects from the Tesla facility, Hardcastle projects that the Tesla ripple will create 865 jobs in the next two decades.
And the jobs number plays a key part in estimating the population growth of a region.
With the Tesla effect, Hardcastle estimates that Washoe's current population, estimated to be 437,580, would grow to about 580,000 in the next 20 years. Without the Tesla effect, he estimates population would grow to 561,000.
The total population of Carson City, meanwhile, is estimated to increase to 69.965 in 2033, compared with an estimated 54,772 today.
The Tesla ripple will add about 4,600 people to the Carson City population.
Without the effects of the Tesla plant, the demographer estimates that Carson City will see more than 7,364 additional jobs in the next 20 years.
The biggest gains in Carson are expected in employment of professional, scientific and technical workers as well as the healthcare industry.
The Lyon County economy is projected to add 4,294 jobs even without the Tesla ripple. Its total population is estimated to increase to 73,415 in 2033 compared with 53,331 currently. The Tesla effect, Hardcastle estimated, by itself will add nearly 10,000 people to Lyon County.
But in Storey County, the home of the plant, the Tesla effect is expected to add only about 800 people to a county population that currently totals barely more than 4,000. Among the reasons: Little residential development is foreseen close to the plant.
Statewide, Hardcastle projects population growth of 528,000 people over the next years — with more than 328,000 coming in the Las Vegas area alone.
The State Demographer, who works in the Nevada Small Business Development Center at the University of Nevada, Reno, prepares estimates that are used in the preparation of the state's budget as well as other planning purposes.
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