A huge breath of fresh air is the best way to describe the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center, and not because there is less smog out there, or because the sagebrush wafts a crisp clean scent over the 100,000 acre valley.
It’s refreshing because entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial companies are actually getting to do what they do best: create thriving businesses, provide jobs for tens of thousands of people, build innovative products that will become essential in the future, and provide opportunity for hundreds of other businesses to do the same.
“Okay, big deal,” you say. So they have a lot of big, highly publicized companies there like Tesla and Switch. So what? Lots of other places have the same thing, right? Yes, you are right, but those places are not set up like visionary Lance Gilman set up TRIC, the largest industrial park in the world.
I would love to tell you all about it, but I can’t for two reasons. First off, you can’t really get a feel for it until you visit and hear what an incredible vision Gilman brought to life over the last 10 years. Secondly, we just don’t have enough space here to get it across, so I am only going to touch on that “huge breath of fresh air” comment I made at the beginning.
What is so refreshing is how the private sector and the government bodies work together to make it successful for all parties. It is amazing what can be accomplished when government gets out of the way. When Tesla first met with Lance Gilman to discuss possibly building their Gigafactory out there, it was mostly only a courtesy meeting in which they told Gilman he had 15 minutes.
Gilman explained there was no way he could tell them all they needed to know in fifteen minutes so he asked them what their biggest challenge was. They said, “Scheduling risk.” Gilman asked what that meant. They said they can never plan when or how to start production because they never know what the governing bodies will do to either delay, stop, or hinder their business.
Now fortunately, Gilman had an ace up his sleeve. Sitting right there at the table with him were the county’s building permit director and the fire chief. Gilman pushed a piece of paper over to the building permit director and asked how long it would take to get an excavating permit. The building director pushed the paper back with a written guarantee of only 7 days from the time the plans are submitted. They then asked the same question about a building permit. The building director told them 30 days or less, guaranteed.
This obviously was a game-changer for Tesla, so they had to at least put the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center into the running. The rest is history, as Tesla went from only wanting 100 acres to now owning over 10,000 acres in the park. What is amazing is that a company could submit plans to the county, and have their building erected, occupied, and in operation in only 180 days.
In most places it would be a miracle to even get a permit to start digging in 180 days, let alone have an actual running business. In fact, I just got done reading in Inc. magazine about a man who spent over 5 years to get his massive spa approved and still doesn’t have a final answer for a building permit. Absolutely pathetic. Can you imagine if private businesses operated this way? They would be gobbled up and spit out in no time. Only governments can treat their clients this poorly and not be held accountable.
I also want to point out that this was not just for Tesla, and not just for the gigantic companies that are out there, but for every company that builds there, big or small.
I have to tell you, this sort of stuff can bring a tear to my eye. I am just so proud that we can still find places in the United States (right in our backyard) that embody the American dream of innovation, risk-taking, and successful entrepreneurialism because the governing bodies actually work with us. Today, Storey County, where Gilman’s park resides, has gone from being a county that was almost broke to making $15M in revenue per year. What a great story.