Here's how Reno attracted the likes of Amazon, and created a distribution and shipping center.


An improving economy combined with the increasing adoption of e-commerce is helping fuel an increase in the number of new warehouses and distribution centers in the area. Add a growing manufacturing base that produces items ranging from cheese and pet food to electric batteries, and Northern Nevada continues its transformation as a key player in the storage and transportation of goods to and from the western United States.
Logistics staffing in Northern Nevada - which includes warehousing, trucking, air service and courier operations such as FedEx and UPS - grew by nearly 46 percent from 10,238 employees in 2009 to 14,908 employees in 2015. Total wages paid rose by nearly 50 percent from $438 million to $656.4 million.

When breaking down the region's rise as a player in the logistics space, its success is often attributed to several things: the first is location. You can reach 11 western states within one day with ground transportation.

Although being able to reach more than 60 million consumers within a day is a huge advantage, however, Northern Nevada's growing reputation as an ideal place for warehousing and shipping is also something that is nearly three-quarters of a century in the making.

To see what kick-started the rise of logistics in the region, one first needs to read a certain document called the Nevada Constitution. THAT LAW REALLY GAVE NEVADA A LEG UP ON WAREHOUSING. 

The 1949 Freeport Law allowed the state's warehouses to store goods tax-free if they were going to be shipped or sold outside of Nevada. Legislators doubled down two years later by passing another law - one that allowed goods that were assembled in certain areas of the state and eventually sent out of Nevada to be tax-free as well. At a time when Sparks' railroad sector was in the throes of a steep decline as steam locomotives fell out of favor, the law's timing could not have been better.

In addition to its lower warehousing and land costs, for example, Nevada does not have the same prohibition that California imposes against triple truck trailers.

What companies are doing is sending their freight to Reno, then transferring them to California. They still get to comply with California law but they've shipped their freight as closely and as cost-efficiently as they can by staging as close to California as possible. You'll start seeing that with Oregon and Washington, too, as those states tend to follow California on things like carbon mandates.

Before the Apples and the Teslas of the world made their splashy debut in the greater Reno-Sparks area, warehouse and distribution centers were quietly and steadily making their mark in the region. Northern Nevada is now reaping the rewards of that foundation.

Although companies such as Tesla and Panasonic typically get most of the attention due to the Gigafactory, food - which is the third-largest specialized sector in Washoe County in 2014 - is actually a major player in Northern Nevada's manufacturing sector. Food manufacturers in the region include established big names such as Starbucks as well as growing companies like Mary's Gone Crackers.

Kelly Richmond