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Reno’s Venture Gamble Leveraging Tesla’s Gigafactory

Here is a little city that did exactly the right things to attain success. If the city you manage is not a Silicon Valley, there are lessons here that could be of great benefit to you.

Reno, Nevada, used to be the butt of jokes across America, but today it is growing a viable venture ecosystem that’s ushering in a bright future. And it’s doing it in an unusual manner: instead of the usual hi-tech startups, this “Biggest Little City in the World” is leveraging its unique assets to specialize in a completely different, yet very effective, niche.

Reno’s strategy is threefold: First, to stay true to itself: rather than trying to compete with Silicon Valley, it seeks to attract technology firms to invest in it in non-glamorous areas that fit Reno’s industrial identity and benefit from its unlimited real estate: data centers, e-commerce fulfillment warehouses, manufacturing plants, and solar farms. Then, with an industrial technology base established, it set up a supportive regulatory environment that enabled it to notch a big win: Tesla’s Lithium battery Gigafactory, which immediately rebranded Reno’s reputation as a place for the most innovative companies to do business. Finally, it capitalized on the resultant momentum to pursue urban revitalization to attract young professionals to the city center and integrate its university into an emerging venture community.

This article from the new City Venture issue of Coller Venture Review, and the accompanying CIV City Case, take us through the evolution of Reno from derision to riches, a story that shows how a combination of humility and pluck, aided by well-planned action at the state and city levels, can create success in surprising ways even in unlikely places.

Full article PDF:

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CIV City Case — Reno, 2000-2016 — Rebranding a Tarnished Reputation

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About the Author:

Jack Wroldsen – Assistant Professor, Spears School of Business, Oklahoma State University.

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