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Smarter Cities Challenge: Revitalizing Reno

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With more than 300 sunny days a year, world-class ski resorts and golf courses, a diverse arts and cultural community, and an endless array of outdoor recreation and entertainment, Reno-Tahoe has it all. We have a chain of high-peaked mountains that surround the region in every direction. We’ve got high desert hills and low valleys covered with deciduous and evergreen trees. Among an eclectic mix of stately manors, quaint churches, sleek high rises, city parks and casinos, we have a river that casually flows through the heart of the city and is home to our famous Truckee River Whitewater Park. But what really sets us apart is a community spirit that makes anyone feel like a local and part of our family.

Mayor Cashell with his staff and the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge team

In the face of the recent economic downturn, the City of Reno and our regional partners have recognized the need for cohesive, forward-thinking economic development. We are committed to collaborating and ensuring business-friendly practices that will improve our public services along with attracting, retaining, and growing businesses. By doing this we will continue on our journey of revitalization.

As part of this revitalization, several agencies partnered with the City of Reno for the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge. The agencies included the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development; the University of Nevada, Reno; the Desert Research Institute; the City of Sparks; Washoe County; the Nevada Institute of Renewable Energy Commercialization; and the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.

For three weeks, the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge team provided their expertise and worked together to understand our local issues and assessed options. They conducted over 50 interviews with more than 110 stakeholders in the public, private and education sectors. The team then developed five recommendations to establish a framework for regional economic development:

  • Change your mindset
  • Be one strong voice
  • Harness your data
  • Brand the vision, not the slogan
  • Invest in your people

Using the momentum provided by the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge while highlighting on one of our existing treasures, we are partnering together to showcase one of our nation’s top public universities – the University of Nevada, Reno. We are showing how Reno is truly a university town by changing Reno’s famous landmark, the Reno Arch, Wolf Pack Blue; hanging University banners in our bustling downtown; encouraging businesses to Support the Pack on their marquees and signs; decorating the Arch with Go Kap Go! to support former Wolf Pack quarterback Colin Kaepernick as he headed into his first Super Bowl game; and declaring Wolf Pack Fridays to encourage and challenge the community to wear Wolf Pack clothing on Fridays.

Steps like these may seem small at first, but the momentum is growing. It is creating pride in our region along with encouraging more students to enroll in a university that allows students to connect with people and professors who can put them on the path to success. A successful university is an investment for the community. It grows business, attracts families and visitors, creates jobs and helps the economy. It makes Reno a Smarter City.

Bob Cashell is serving his third term as the mayor of Reno, Nevada.

Related Resources:

Read about the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge

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