Researchers, Entrepreneurs and Renewable Energy
In addition to its steady winds, Reno sits on one of the most important geothermal reserves in the country. Senator Harry Reid has said that Nevada could be “the Saudi Arabia of geothermal energy”—if that happens, Reno stands to become a major energy hub. Three geothermal companies already have their headquarters in Reno, and another six have offices there. Given the potential of this sector, city government offers a number of incentives, such as a fast-track permitting process and discounted land purchases, to energy entrepreneurs.
Perhaps one of the most attractive features for energy startups is Nevada’s tax code, which includes neither a corporate nor a personal income tax. However, low taxes mean fewer cash incentives to tantalize industry, says Tom Matter, business development of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada. Reno’s strategy is to lure businesses with a dynamic research and development sector.
“We’re saying that if you locate here you will have access to experts at the university and at other companies,” says Matter. “We don’t have a million dollars to hand out, but we have a community that will support you. Not to mention that we’re just 30 miles from one of the biggest economies in the world, which is the state of California.”
Reno is home to various earth science and energy research centers, including the Desert Research Institute and the Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy at the University of Nevada-Reno. In May 2010, the University of Nevada announced the launch of the National Geothermal Institute, a consortium of top research institutions that will be located on the Reno campus.
Matter and other city officials hope that the new Institute will help situate Reno as a center of innovation and entrepreneurship.