Nevada History by John C. Evanoff

Visitreno.com is excited to present this series of articles by noted author and poet, John C. Evanoff. John will tell us about Nevada history and cover some of the more remote and unusual things to see and do in Northern Nevada.

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Northern Nevada Business

March, 2010
By John Evanoff

Throughout Northern Nevada’s history including the trails west through the state by the 49ers, the Mormon settlements, the Mormons leaving the state, mining, mining stock depressions, the failures of many mines, entire communities turning into ghost towns, the Civil War, fires, floods, Washoe Zephyrs, disease, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, divorce law, marriage laws, gaming and much more; Nevada has always bounced back. The current recession has hit Northern Nevada particularly hard, but not as hard as some would make out and especially with our amazing history in mind. Nevada as a whole has seen a downturn and many businesses and homeowners have gone into bankruptcy or default on their loans. Reno’s history is full of hard times, especially during the Great Depression, the area was host to so many anxious moments that some families just gave up hope and left our region. Every time this has happened, a few of Reno’s innovative and steadfast loyalists brought the city and Northern Nevada back to its lucrative path and success. In most cases, it has been business leaders who saw ways to counteract the dip in revenues or the loss of tourism. The one very important piece to this puzzle for these businessmen and an integral portion of the solution to the future of Northern Nevada is to always go forward with ideas most people would wonder twice about implementing. When Nevada businessmen and politicians decided to save Reno in the early 1900’s by making it easy to get a divorce by staying in the area for six weeks to acquire residency, everyone looked at Nevada as a den of inequity. Nevada businesses made money though and when California reduced residency to compete, Nevada went one better with instant divorces and weddings. When gambling came to the Silver State, much to the dismay of California, businesses and banks saw it as a way to dig out of the depths of what the depression had left, but the country was aghast. Newspapers all over the east called Reno the sin capital of the world and many businesses stopped their collaboration with many of our companies and towns. Needless to say, they all began to see the worth in keeping up their financial ties with those very same businesses when they saw that the public was flocking to the area. Revenues flowed in from all over the country.

So what is left to try? You might think there is nothing left to bring growth and capital back to the state, but you would be wrong. Business folk understand what people want. It’s up to the people and the politicians to listen, though. What we don’t have legally is what we already have. It’s just like the past. When we put gambling on the table along with easy divorce and fast weddings we made money. It took a tremendous amount of guts and dedication to begin the process and organize the politicians to bring these ideas into a capital reality. Some ideas require the public to look the other way in the interest of revitalizing our communities and all of them take regulation and control to withstand intervention by the federal government. These atypical ideas are what made Nevada the most freethinking and pioneering of all the United States, yet for many, they were not only wacky but quite contrary to the common societal standards of the time.

The best way to combat these feelings by others is to make them rational through persistent marketing, promotion and public relations. If enough business folks and politicians get together to produce the necessary equity involved in marketing something as inoffensive, anything can be sold as wholesome for the good of the economy. In many states, there are already moves to change laws to produce jobs and revenue that no one would have ever considered just two years ago. Hawaii is looking to bring legalized gambling to the state. California has already expanded gambling into being the largest gaming entity in the country and is looking to even more expansion. Several other states are looking at opening up gaming more than what they already have on the books. All that is necessary is regulating authorities and these states see revenue increases almost immediately. So the future is in marketing what we have in Nevada already in one form or another even further. Some Nevada counties already have heavily regulated and taxed legal prostitution. Some states have legalized marijuana in small quantities for personal use. Online poker and online gaming is taxed and regulated overseas and yet is illegal in the United States. All of these ideas and many more could be the next big bonanza for Nevada. All we need are a few clever articulate leaders to take the reins and gallop forward into the vision and make them a reality.

Casino properties and businesses who have marketed to the locals stand the best chance of getting through the next couple years, but if there are fewer locals because they leave the area, what will happen to these enterprises further down the road? Since the local customer is generally smarter and more demanding, marketing departments also need to spend more to retain their market share of this group as well as hoping to acquire new customers visiting the area. With very few exceptions, the number of out of town visitors and new homeowners will decrease without assertive efforts by politicians and businesses to offer more enticements. Overall, I see Northern Nevada feeling the continued pinch. They will not be able to keep up with overburdened and slimmed down government services. New businesses will continue to stay away from Nevada until visitors come back, so unemployment will remain high until something is accomplished to change the direction Nevada is heading. Moving to increase revenues and workforce will take a concerted effort by our politicians and businesses alike. They will need to think outside the box and make quick and decisive decisions to encourage new capital by generating fantastic and pioneering concepts. Some of those ideas may seem weird, but trying them may be the only way to stop the hemorrhaging. The first states who implement these grandiose and some would say, bizarre ideas, the more likely you will see a turnaround in the economy.


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