Final Report

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The report includes recommendations and a roadmap for the region resulting from an intensive on-site analysis by a highly skilled team of IBM experts.

Beginning in February, for three weeks, the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge team worked together to understand local issues and assess options. They conducted over 50 interviews with more than 110 stakeholders in the public, private and education sectors. According to the team, they combined interview insights with their assessment of economic development assets and best practices and developed a number of findings about the current regional situation:

• Individual entities work in silos instead of together as a unified region.
• Multiple economic development agencies and authorities represent different parts of the region, resulting in fragmented economic development.
• The region uses multiple different record systems and data sources, formats, purposes and definitions.
• Think there is no regionally cohesive data set for insights and decision-making.
• The existence of different visions and objectives among the various agencies dilutes the message.
• Each jurisdiction has its own brand with its own slogan; there is no unifying regional vision and brand.
• The state falls to the bottom at a national level for education and graduation rates.
• The region continues to struggle with investment in education, specifically K-12.
• Businesses considering relocation and investment in the region often cite the lack of a qualified workforce as a barrier.

The team then developed five recommendations to establish a framework for regional economic development:

1. Change your mindset: Develop an integrated regional economic development strategy.
2. Be one strong voice: Present one regional economic development face to the outside world.
3. Harness your data: Build a regional “system of systems” analytics utility to support economic development.
4. Brand the vision, not the slogan: Present a single strong identity for the city and the region as a whole.
5. Invest in your people: Focus on education and workforce development to build a foundation for future growth.

The team completed its recommendations with a 12-month roadmap for immplementation and a governance structure to kick-start economic development in the region.

In November 2012, the City of Reno was named one of 100 cities globally to be selected as an IBM “Smarter City” grantee.

IBM launched the Smarter Cities Challenge Program as part of its broader Smarter Planet initiative. The goal was to award 100 cities around the world with approximately $400,000 worth of IBM technical assistance to develop innovative solutions to municipal challenges. IBM does this by contributing the time and expertise of top experts from different business units and geographies, putting them on the ground for three weeks to work closely with city leaders and delivering recommendations on how to make the city smarter and more effective.

Several agencies partnered with the City for this grant— the Governor’s Office of Economic Development; the University of Nevada, Reno; the Desert Research Institute; the Nevada Institute of Renewable Energy Commercialization; and the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.