This opinion column was submitted by RGJ columnist Mike Kazmierski, president and CEO of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.

The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year at the State of the Economy Luncheon on Jan. 26, which is open to the public. Most would agree that our economy in 2023 is very different than it was in 1983. As the only economic development agency in the community, EDAWN has had a great deal to do with this transition. How did EDAWN start, and what has it done to help reinvent our economy?

The recession in the early 1980s forced the community to consider economic development. In 1982, Reno had just lost Hewlett-Packard, a significant prospect in search of a location for their new plant. This decision revealed that prospects viewed the community as one dominated by a gaming culture, city officials not supportive of economic development, and insufficient regional planning. Unemployment in Nevada topped 10 percent, construction came to a near-halt as mortgage interest rates hovered around 16 percent, and the region’s gaming and tourism sector began feeling competitive pressures from the newly opened casinos in Atlantic City. It was time for a change.

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