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Reno to help businesses weather recession
by Tribune Staff
Nov 19, 2009 | 1420 views | 1 1 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RENO — The city of Reno and the Reno Redevelopment Agency will help struggling local businesses weather the economic downturn through a program called the Reno Community Vitality and Economic Recovery (RECOVER) program.

The program was developed at the direction of the Reno City Council to address concerns about the number of failed businesses and commercial foreclosures in the downtown core due to the recession.   The program is designed to ease the impacts of the recession and stimulate the local economy to create new jobs at the same time.

RECOVER seeks to accomplish that through a four-prong approach. First, it eases the burden of new building by modifying fee collection dates and infrastructure timing requirements so fees are collected when a certificate of occupancy is issued.  This means certain fees such as water connection, sewer connection or regional road impact fees would not be collected until a building is finished and ready for use, thus helping with a business’ cash-flow.

The program also focuses on training by offering various courses through a partnership between the city and the Nevada Small Business Development Center at the University of Nevada, Reno. One example would be a “Business Survival Workshop” offered by Service Corps of Retiree Executives, or SCORE, which is a group made up of retired senior executives.

Another important aspect of the program focuses on funding by working with local banks and others to lower the costs of borrowing money.  The city currently offers small business loans through the Reno Opportunity Growth Fund, which is administered by the city manager’s office and funded by federal Community Development Block Grants.  By working with local lenders, banks could use these funds to extend the terms and lower the rates for loans that the banks would otherwise approve. Another tool is the establishment of a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). With a CDFI a group of investors, which could include local banks, would make loans that meet certain criteria such as areas of town such as low to moderate income areas or redevelopment districts.  In return, the income from the loans will be taxed at a lower rate.

The final prong focuses on business attraction and retention. Recently, the city of Reno combined efforts with the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada and Nevada’s System of Higher Education to attract and retain geothermal businesses.  The city of Reno would continue to look for similar opportunities to create jobs and diversify the economy.

In another related action, the Reno City Council approved a $71,250 agreement to continue to provide support for the economic development services provided by the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.
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November 24, 2009
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