Alvey: Time of change a time for a change |

Alvey: Time of change a time for a change

John Seelmeyer

In the end, Chuck Alvey says, he didn’t want to build a house he wouldn’t be living in.

And so he stepped away, resigning last week as president and chief executive of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.

Big changes appear to be coming in the way that Nevada organizes its economic development efforts, and they’re likely to require a major restructuring of EDAWN assuming that the agency is around at all.

Alvey, who’s been thinking about stepping down from the helm of EDAWN for a couple of years, didn’t want to help create the new economic-development infrastructure and then leave the organization to his successor.

Better, he thought, to leave now so that his successor can shape the future of economic development.

But that future is uncertain.

A bill pending in the Nevada Legislature would designate a single agency in northern Nevada eligible to receive state economic development funding. A single economic agency also would be designated for southern Nevada, and a third would be designated to represent rural areas of the state.

Northern Nevada currently has two state-funded regional economic development agencies EDAWN and the Northern Nevada Development Authority in Carson City along with the medium-sized Elko County Economic Diversification Authority and smaller organizations in rural counties. (Nevada Business Connections, an industrial recruitment group headquartered in Carson City, is funded entirely by the private sector.)

Further muddying the future is the pending combination of EDAWN with the ready-to-merge Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce and Northern Nevada Chamber of Commerce.

When that combination was announced, EDAWN officials noted that some careful footwork would be needed because the Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce has actively lobbied lawmakers, while the state money provided to EDAWN can’t be used for lobbying.

Stephanie Kruse, vice chair of the EDAWN board, says the organization is convinced that some sort of regional approach to economic development makes sense, but the details remain murky.

“It could be a very different animal,” Kruse says.

And that means that EDAWN’s board will ask its search firm to seek out creative candidates as it begins looking for a successor to Alvey.

“The ideal person will love a challenge, will love the opportunity to do something fresh and different,” Kruse says.

A search firm is expected to begin its work within a couple of weeks. Alvey will stick around until a successor is in place.

Alvey, who spent three decades as a broadcaster before he was named to the top spot at EDAWN 12 years ago, says he began feeling the itch for a new challenge a couple of years ago.

But then the roof fell in on the economy, and EDAWN dramatically reduced its staff. For a while, Alvey wore multiple hats at the agency fielding calls from companies scouting the region, running its daily operations, and overseeing long-term strategic direction.

“If I walked out then, it would have created a vacuum,” he says.

More recently, Alvey says he’s planned to leave at the end of 2012 but the changes under consideration by the state government accelerated the timetable.

“I just couldn’t see myself helping to design a house that I had no intention of living in,” he says.


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