Month: April 2014

Upcoming Reno Events

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The weekend is approaching and you’re looking for something to do. You’re feeling adventurous and therefore you’re seeking something new. Where do you look to learn about events happening around here?  Below I will discuss some events coming up in the near future, and you can bookmark the sites for your future reference. (Photo Credit)

1. Dine the District

I don’t know much about this event, as I discovered it recently. From what i can gather, you pay for a ticket and you get to taste food at all of the 20 restaurants participating in the “Riverwalk District.” Since everybody likes to eat, theoretically everybody would like this event. It’s certainly a way to try new restaurants while adding a unique element to the day. This event is taking place May 3rd from 1-4pm.

2. Reno River Festival

wpid-reno_river_festival_art2This is an annual event, taking place this year on May 10th. If you’re into kayaking, this will probably be an enjoyable spectacle. If you’re like most people, you will go for the atmosphere. There are a ton of people, music, food and other small business vendors. I personally prefer activities with more adventure, but it can be a fun activity with a family. You can also click the event calendar on this website to see everything happening by the date. (Photo Credit)

3. Bob Saget

You can always check the Casino websites for entertaining events, but I learned about this one from a billboard. If you have never seen some of Bob Saget’s comedy, you should check it out. He’s very funny, and wildly inappropriate. The link to Bob Saget’s page is the Grand Sierra’s event calendar. If you’re not a Saget fan, perhaps one of the shows at other casinos will toot your horn. Check out events at John Ascuaga’s Nugget, The Silver Legacy,The El Dorado, and The Harrah’s.

4. Reno Event Center

The title of this place really gives it away. Coming up on May 3rd is Reno Ultimate Combat which is MMA cage fighting, (like UFC.) If you like watch bald guys punch each other because they’re angry about having no hair, this is for you. I’m just kidding, MMA fighting is pretty badass. If you don’t find anything cool on the Reno Event Center website, maybe you will prefer this website about downtown Reno events.

Hopefully this will give you a few more ideas to keep you and your date occupied in the coming month. There is a lot more happening in the Biggest Little City than many people realize. You have to be proactive to track down the good events and find the best musicians/comedians visiting Reno. If you would like to thank me for the wonderful ideas above, you can retweet this post and then buy me a beer next time you see me out and about.

 

 

A Perfect Reno

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Obviously I like Reno and the surrounding and area. However I recognize it’s not perfect and some changes need to be made. In this post I will describe what a perfect Reno would look like, (perfect according to my own fine taste.) Some changes will not be feasible or realistic, but it’s fun to dream sometimes right? Here’s my vision for the development of a perfect Reno:

RENORIverFirst, many professional businesses will move here because they will recognize the tax benefits and quality of life. This will increase the median salary, making Reno more attractive, and it will bring more educated residents to the area. These businesses will need office space and many of them will choose downtown for their location, giving downtown a true makeover. Since there are only so many existing office spaces downtown, the City of Reno will elect to flatten all of the crappy motels and build offices and apartments/condos instead. All of the tenants from the crappy motels will be relocated to Sparks, or maybe even Sacramento. The liquor stores in the area will be converted into grocery stores and the dive bars will turn into gyms, day cares and other businesses that will support working professionals in an urban community. The City will also take initiatives to make the city more beautiful by removing all graffiti, repainting all structures that need it and by planting more trees. (Photo credit)

All of the residents who choose not to live in downtown will need places to love. Considering we have an extremely low inventory right now, new developments will need to be created, which we have plenty of space for. In addition to the current developments in South Reno and parts of Sparks, North Reno will see these developments occur outside of the McCarran loop near Keyston/McCarran and along 395 N. New, nice pockets of Reno will be created from this new construction and it will allow support businesses to thrive in these new communities. These efforts will be noticed by visitors and the perception of Reno will begin to change.

The influx of highly educated people will create a demand for better schools. The state will provide schools with a larger portion of their budget and teachers will be held accountable for performing to the highest standard. Our ranks will climb, not necessarily to the top, but away from rock bottom. The improved education system will create an intelligent base for Reno’s future population.

Suddenly UNR will be much more successful in retention efforts because students can find high paying jobs more easily in the area and the University’s rating will rise, bringing more. The number of beautiful women in Reno begins to amplify. Due to the population growth, more restaurants, bars and stores will pop up. Unfortunately all of these new people will create a traffic jam, so new infrastructure will need to be created to support the population growth, thus creating more jobs. Despite all of the new people and businesses, the cost of living remains very low and there are still no income taxes.

The best part is that all of these new Renoites will be city people and therefore the ski resorts will not get any more crowded, which will leave great powder for me! In fact, everyone from Tahoe will despise the population growth next door and they will move to Montana, which will leave even more powder for me. Finally, once all of this is completed, the Mayor of Reno will recognize that all of the changes were inspired by this blog post, and they will create a giant, iconic statue of me downtown as a token of appreciation. The end.

You are welcome to tell your kids this story before bedtime. I think all of things I mentioned could happen in Reno, but I think the timeline would be about 20 years. Wouldn’t it be great if a group of investors decided to make Reno an attractive place by funding the reconstruction I described? I think that would change the image of Reno and I think it would enable growth. It would be very risky, and therefore it’s probably not realistic. What would a perfect Reno look like to you? Leave me a comment and let me know.

 

 

Activities IN Reno

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I’ve already discussed plenty of recreational opportunities around here. If you’re too lazy or unadventurous to get out of the city, what is there to do around here?? The short answer: A LOT! In this post I will try to avoid outdoor activities I have touched on in prior posts such as the hiking, biking and dirt biking trails in Reno, the activities associated around the Truckee River, etc. I will suggest more entertainment-centric activities you could pursue IN Reno.

  1.  Need to Speed

This is an indoor kart racing facility that is fairly new to the South Reno area. Apparently the karts get up to 45 mph and the video below makes it look really fun. My friend had the brilliant idea of dressing up like the characters in Mariokart and going there to race. You better not get behind me or I will definitely throw a banana peal in your path. The only bummer is that the guy in the video below explains how the karts are the “safest on the market” which means they probably don’t go as fast as they should, especially if they are impossible to tip. Still, 45 mph sounds pretty fast, and they are open even on the Holidays!

  1. The Grand Sierra Resort

This place has so much to do it’s just silly. Outside by the parking lot, they have a driving range where you hit balls into a lake. On this lake, there are a few floating islands at varying distances, and you win prizes if you make your ball into some of the holes. If you make a hole in one on the farthest island you win a free trip to Hawaii, but it’s basically impossible since the island is a piece of wood covered in a thin layer of turf. Your ball goes flying off after impact. They also have a huge bowling alley, a 185 ft bungee swing, mini golf and go karts. On the very bottom floor you can find “Fun Quest” which is designed for kids and it consist of video games, laser tag and “tumble town,” which is like a padded bounce area with slides and such.

  1.  Safe Shot Shooting Range

In Reno, we are a bunch of gun-slinging rednecks. Therefore, it’s perfect that there is a shooting right in the middle of the South Meadows area, very close to Jasmine Sushi off of Double R Blvd. There may be more shooting ranges in Reno, but Safe Shot is the only one I’m familiar with. There are also a number of unofficial outdoor ranges in the Carson area and on Mt. Peavine just North of Reno. If you like guns and you’re bored, it’s always fun to blast off a few rounds.

4. Frisbee Golf

Frisbee GolfRight behind the baseball complex that is off of N. Virginia and N. McCarran there is an 18 hole frisbee golf course. It’s a great way to kill some time with friends, as you can be competitive but chances are everyone in the group is pretty bad at it. It’s not a strenuous activity and therefore you can drink a beer and relax while you play. The course offers some spectacular views of Reno, as you can see by my photo to the left. If you don’t have frisbee golf discs, you can buy them, at Cabellas.

 

 

 

5. San Rafael Dog Park

ranchosanrafael10Located across the street from the frisbee golf course is San Rafael Park, and the San Rafael Dog Park. It’s a giant dog park where your furry friend can run free and get into fights with all of the other dogs. There is also a pond at the top and bottom of the park so your dog can jump in an get really muddy before getting back into your car for the ride home. If you don’t have a dog, then you can go play with other person’s dogs, which will brighten your day, unless you’re more of a weird guinea pig person of course. The park is so massive that taking a walk across the park in itself is actually a pretty nice activity.  (Photo Credit)

 

6. EZ Air

Basically this place is a warehouse full of trampolines. Trampolines on the ground, the walls, and into foam pits. Therefore it probably won’t be an enjoyable activity for most true “adults” or women. Since I’m just an over-sized old kid, I would still find it enjoyable on occasion. You can try double flips into the foam pit without the risk of injury. You can also partake in the dodgeball games that occur at scheduled times.

Lastly you can do the same activities that you can do in every city: There are plenty of parks and large grass areas to sit at, you can go a regular or Imax movie,  you can play in the nearest body of water, (the Truckee River,) you can go shopping, visit museums, partake in a pick-up soccer game at the UNR turf fields, etc. What do you like to do IN the City of Reno when you have time for fun? Leave me a comment and let me know!

 

Education in Reno

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On a prior post one of my classmates, Mike Curtis, left an insightful comment regarding one of the largest barriers to Reno’s future growth: education. Usually when comparing the quality of education, the ranking is performed on a state level. Nevada consistently sucks, and therefore you can usually scroll to the bottom of the list to find us. However Nevada as a state is not necessarily representative of Washoe County in particular, and even schools within Washoe county can vary greatly.

EDAWN conducted a study that compared Washoe County to the other 50 states and the results showed that Washoe County actually ranked pretty high in many aspects. As of December 2013, the Washoe county School District (WCSD) ranked 15th in the nation for “College Readiness in all Subjects,” which was better than California. The WCSD ranked 12th in “AP Test Takers,” 18th on the “ACT test for Math,” and 24th on the “ACT test for English.” Washoe County still ranked very low in some aspects: 50th for “”Per Student Funding,” 49th for “Student to Teacher Ratio,” and 43rd for “Graduation Rate.”

When I see those results it shows me that overall it seems the quality of our education is pretty good, as evident by test scores, but it also shows the funding for our schools is not good. I have a few friends who are High School teachers in the area and they reported that the quality of their students depends on the family they come from. They informed me high schools that draw students from affluent areas consistently see better results than high schools that draw from lower income areas. Because Reno is small, you often get students from both dynamics at the same school and therefore the results within one school can vary enormously. If the parents don’t motivate their kids then the teachers can only do so much.

What are the solutions to increase the ratings among schools in Washoe County and Nevada as a whole? The honest answer is I don’t know because it’s a field I don’t know enough about. However I can conclude we need to start by providing schools with the necessary funding to be successful, especially if we are dead last in terms of “per student funding.” I don’t know what the state’s budget looks like, but I have to imagine they can cut costs in some area in order to dedicate more to education. Or maybe they can increase sales tax to subsidize the cost, get a grant from the Federal Government, or find a group of wealthy private investors in Washoe County to donate money. Don’t tell me it can’t be done, because it can. Like anything else, it will require some creativity and persistence.

If a company were interested in moving to the area and education for the employee’s children was a major concern, I would recommend checking out the private schools in the area, such as Sage Ridge School. Although private schools can be expensive, they are much more likely to provide a better education than any public school, even public schools in higher ranking states. I went to a public high school in California and I don’t think the education I received was particularly valuable. I would fall back on the argument that the success of a student heavily depends on what the parents do outside of school to stimulate the student’s academics. I included a video about Sage Ridge School below since I had never heard of it before I wrote this post, and therefore you probably haven’t either. Hopefully Washoe County and Nevada will be proactive in reversing the negative ratings education consistently receives in this state.

 

What steps do you think Nevada needs to take to increase its education rankings? Leave me a comment and let me know.

 

Reno Headlines

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Believe it or not, I am not the only person who recognized Reno as a great place to live. In fact, I have seen Reno recognized for various reasons in numerous articles lately. Each article touches on something different and I believe every article is from a different source. I know you hate reading, and therefore I will summarize each article for you…

1. Reno ranks as the 3rd hottest Real Estate Market, according to MSN.

lisitngThis article rated the “hottest markets” by comparing the year-over-year median home price increases. All of the data comes from realtor.com, however I have to question the data based on the data I’m familiar with directly from the MLS and the Reno Sparks Association of Realtors. For instance, the article claims the median home price rose 26.8% in the last year, and to my understanding it was 23.6%. Also the article claims the median home price in Reno is $259,900. The median house price fluctuates monthly, and it was $227,000 in March and $235,000 in February. The article picked a beautiful home to advertise, as you can see by the photo to the left. (Photo Credit.)

2. Virginia City Ranks as one of “The Coolest Desert Towns” by Travel and Leisure.

I know, I know, they meant to say Reno but they actually said Virginia City. Virginia City is about 25 miles south of Reno, and since my blog is about the Reno area, you have to let this article slide. They highlight the fact that Virginia City has a lot of historic sites, including wooden boardwalks, dusty graveyards and classic saloons. I know Virginia City best because they have kooky events like the camel/ostrich races and the Rocky Mountain oyster festival. Although you can pan for gold and explore old mines, there’s much more to do and see in Reno. We will credit the article for attracting attention the area.

3. The Downtown Library was rated as “The Coolest International Space” by Cengage Learning. 

LibraryI have never been to this library and I’ve never heard of Cengage Learning, but thanks for the recognition! The article highlights that the books stack fill 4 levels, so you can get your reading on. Known as “the garden,” apparently the lowest level is full of vegetation and it’s the place where patrons can read. I attached a picture to the left so you can get a more visual idea of what the bottom floor looks like. I think it’s a pretty cool idea to be surrounded by vegetation while reading and I think the UNR Library should recognize it! (Photo Credit)

4. “Reno Shares Biggest/Little moment with Biggest Little City Movement” 

This is more of a local article but I wanted to touch on “The Biggest Little City Movement” since it’s awesome. Basically this movement is dedicated to changing the perception of Reno based on sharing the stories of those who live here. This article explained how many entities in Reno got together at UNR to support the movement. The University is now taking part in the effort and the video below is a story told by the head football coach at UNR. “In the coming weeks and months, Biggest Little City plans to organize voter registration efforts in other cities as well as Adopt-A-Business efforts to help non-profits and small businesses in the area more effectively brand what they do and explain whey their work is important.”

If you know of any other headlines worth highlighting, please send them to me in a comment.

The Financial Perks to Living in Reno

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I was filming the final segment of my personal branding video today and I calculated some numbers regarding the cost savings associated with living in Reno. Some of the things I discovered shocked me, and I think they will shock you too. I compared living in Reno to living in California, since that is the low hanging fruit. I compared money one can save via taxes, the cost of living and commuting.

1. Income Taxes:

If you didn’t already know, Nevada does not have state income tax. Using this income tax calculator from Ca.gov, I discovered that if you make $100,000 per year in California, you will pay $6,860 in state income taxes if you file as single. Over the course of 10 years, that’s $68,600 you will save just by living across the border. Further if you were to invest the $6,860 per year, you could pretty easily turn your savings into over $100,000 over ten years, or more depending on your returns. That’s a huge amount of money that I would prefer to spend in almost any way other than giving it to the state.

2. Cost of Living:

GraphsI saw recently at the end of this article from the Reno Gazette Journal that the cost of living in Reno is about 5.8% below the national average. When evaluating the cost of living, the items discussed usually include the items displayed int he graph to the left. One aspect where Reno has a large advantage in savings compared to other areas is utilities. I’m not going to retrieve my bill and examine the amount I pay per kilowatt, however after speaking with my Dad who lives in El Dorado Hills California this weekend, I feel very fortunate to be saving a substantial amount of money per month on utilities. In the future, I think utilities in Reno will remain low because Reno has an abundance of renewable energy: 300 days of sunshine per year, some of the best geothermal energy in the country and even a good supply of wind. If it costs $25,000 to live each year than you save $1,450 per year by living in Reno, or $14,500 over the course of 10 years.

According to Zillow, the median home price in Reno is $198,700. The median home price in San Jose is $661,700$887,700 in San Francisco and $235,100 in Sacramento. Renting prices are also relatively reflective of the purchase prices for houses. In Reno, you may be able to afford a house sooner, which will allow you to build equity in your asset rather than throw your money away while renting a 400 square foot studio for $1,000 a month in San Francisco. The loan you pursue in Reno will be smaller, which will make it easier for you to qualify and easier for you to meet your monthly payment. Also, your loan will be much cheaper since the loan amount will be smaller and there will be less interest over the life of the loan. It’s very difficult to say how much you will save per year by your mortgage payment because there are too many variables, but we can conclude the savings could be significant. For now we will include the savings in housing with the lower cost of living figure above, (5.8% below the national average.)

3. Commuting:

I live and work on the opposite sides of town, and it takes me just over 15 minutes to get to work. The national average for a commute is about 25 minutes. That means the average person spends about 20 minutes per day in the car that I don’t. Considering there are about 250 days in a working year, (you have to exclude weekends and holidays,) that amounts to 5000 minutes or 83.3 hours or about 3.5 extra days in the car each year. That’s a lot of time. When I get reimbursed for mileage at work, I get about $0.565 per mile and this figure factors in both gas and the cost of car maintenance. If that extra 20 minutes per day amounted to 20 extra miles per day, (freeway travel,) that would equivelate to $2,825 per year or $28,250 over our 10 year example.

Let’s total up what we have so far: Savings in income tax + savings in cost of living + savings in commuting = $11,135 per year. Wouldn’t it be nice to put that extra $11,135 in your retirement account each year? Also remember: your savings could be much higher depending where you rent or buy a house. If you were to add up the same factors above over our 10 year example, you would have savings totaling $111,350. This does not even factor in the possibility of investments or the exact amount you would save in mortgage payments or interest over 10 years. That is simply the amount of cash you would save. Isn’t this insane? San Francisco is an awesome city, but is it worth the money to live there? And it’s only getting more expensive, what’s your price? If you saved $111,250 per year in Reno, would you move here?

If you found this article interesting and you’re pro Reno, retweet this post!

 

 

Business Environment in Reno

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Reno is a great place to operate a business, and its small, locally-owned business community is rich. (Rich in the sense that there are many small business, not rich in the sense that all small business owners drive Ferraris.) The abundance of small businesses makes it easier for residents to buy local and support the community. They also create a unique culture as many small businesses bring character that is unmatchable by chains and larger corporations. The business environment and incentives in Nevada are the reasond so many small businesses have emerged, and I believe the business environment will create the incentive for new businesses to attract to the area.

edawnNorthern Nevada and Reno in particular has been cited frequently over the last few years as a great place to conduct business. The most recent award I saw was from the Kauffman Foundation, who ranked Reno as the #1 Most Populous and Highest Startup Density for the MSA size class. Others include: Nevada was also ranked as the #12 best state for business by Chief Executive Magazine. Nevada was ranked by the Tax Foundation as #3 most business friendly tax climate in the US. Reno frequently ranks as a great place to live, and you can check out a more comprehensive list of honorable mentions on EDAWN’s website.  (Photo Credit)

If I owned a business and I considered relocating to Nevada, a few things I would be interested in would include:

  • The cost of doing business, specifically taxes and regulation: (There are no corporate income taxes, no taxes on corporate shares, no franchise taxes, etc)
  • Quality and affordability of life for my employees. (No income tax, 5.8% the national average for the cost of living, minutes from world class recreation, tier 1 University.)
  • The location in reference to other business hubs. (20% of the country can be reached in one day through major shipping carriers, 53 departures per day from the airport, 7-8 flights per day to the bay area, 3 1/2 hour drive from the bay area.)
  • Generally: What Nevada can offer me that other places can’t. (What is already mentioned above. Unfortunately Nevada does not have any big incentives for interested companies.)

Nevada can deliver on the items above. Since Northern Nevada is hungry for new business, I think new businesses are treated with open arms more than they would be in places like the Bay Area. This allows for new businesses in the area to stand out more. I read a pretty interesting article recently from the Reno Gazette Journal that described how EDAWN facilitates the process of showing an interested business the area. I was surprised to read that Reno’s Reputation is almost never brought up by companies interested in the area. “We don’t ever lose a deal for a perception of the city if we get to show them the real Reno-Sparks.” -Mike Kazmierski

The business environment has allowed for small businesses to be successful, and I’m curious to see what types of companies will develop in the future. If renewable energy ever gains steam again, Reno could see a boom in that industry as it has an incredible supply of solar, geothermal and even wind energy. If the Reno Collective and start up row gain enough momentum, Reno could become a major tech hub and steal some of the brightest minds from the bay area. Reno has already become a desired destination for logistics and distribution companies, and we could see a further expansion in those industries. Or perhaps Tesla will move here and that will open the door to more manufacturing plants? Maybe every company will decide they don’t want to move to Reno and we will see no growth at all?

What do you envision for the future business climate in Reno? Do you think certain industries will be more prominent than others? Leave me a comment and let me know.