The Boyd Company, which once picked Reno as a Tesla Gigafactory frontrunner, named Minden its top pick for a low-cost corporate HQ in the West.
By Jason Hildalgo, Reno Gazette Journal, August 3, 2023
Move over, Reno and Las Vegas.
One site selection firm picked a location in Nevada as the No. 1 place in the West for a corporate headquarters, but it ain’t the Biggest Little City or Sin City.
Instead, the top honors went to Minden, a self-described “quiet little town” in Northern Nevada’s Douglas County.
A report on post-pandemic corporate headquarters by The Boyd Co. — whose clients include Office Depot, Boeing and the Howard Hughes Corp. — chose Minden as the best, lowest-cost location in the West. The report also picked Ponte Verde, Florida, and East Brainerd, Tennessee, as the best corporate HQ locations in the eastern and central U.S., respectively.
“A lot of smart corporate site planners are looking at Minden right now,” John Boyd, a principal at The Boyd Co., told the Reno Gazette Journal.
“We’re getting a lot of data requests from site-seeking companies for Northern Nevada. Minden, in particular, is becoming a hotbed of interest.”
The Reno-Minden connection
Interestingly, one of the reasons The Boyd Co. picked Minden is its relative proximity to Reno-Sparks and the metro area’s infrastructure.
The site selection firm, which picked Reno as a leading contender for Tesla’s first Gigafactory, along with San Antonio, Texas, back in 2014, still remains bullish about the city. Reno’s proximity to the Bay Area combined with its more business friendly tax and regulatory environment has always been a key advantage for the metro area.
“Reno is really a rising star with respect to being on the map for new venture capital and startup companies leaving the Bay Area,” Boyd said. “These are themes that are written about consistently.”
In 2021, for example, Northern Nevada startups raised $1.4 billion in external funding — more than 15 times the amount it raised the prior year, according to the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.
At the same time, Reno has also turned into a victim of its own success since rebounding from the Great Recession.
Housing costs in Reno-Sparks, for example, have skyrocketed since Tesla and several other companies entered Northern Nevada. Despite a slight cooling of the housing market after the Federal Reserve started raising interest rates, the median sales price for an existing single-family home in the city of Reno was back up at $622,000 in June, according to Sierra Nevada Realtors. It is the fourth-highest median home price reported for Reno, which reached a record $635,000 exactly a year ago.
Apartment rents also reached their second-highest point in the second quarter of this year at $1,644, just shy of the $1,680 record set last year. Apartment vacancies were also near zero at 2.19%.
Reno also has limited land availability for bigger projects.
This is where Minden comes in.
Why Minden, Nevada, as a corporate HQ site?
While Reno might no longer be seen as the discount, low-cost alternative it used to be compared to other U.S. locations, Minden is a different story.
In addition to lower costs, Minden boasts a key resource.
“First of all, they have land,” Boyd said. “Land is really at a premium today in high-growth areas and that’s a real value proposition that we’ve been able to identify.”
Development has also picked up in Douglas County and the nearby state capital of Carson City, including for new homes, according to Boyd.
At the same time, the rise of hybrid work means that employees don’t even need to live in Minden if they prefer staying in a larger city or a place like Lake Tahoe, Boyd added.
A lot of companies are now adopting a hub-and-spoke model where the headquarters serve as a base but workers live in a different city and don’t have to be at the office every day. A lot of Bay Area workers, for example, moved to Lake Tahoe and worked remotely during the pandemic. One could make the case that driving to a Minden HQ from Lake Tahoe is much easier than driving to a Bay Area HQ, according to Boyd.
“In this post-pandemic new norm, this idea of Monday through Friday, nine to five, that’s out the window,” Boyd said. “Companies now define return to office as three to four days a week so being in a low-cost more manageable suburban location … that’s really the norm, not the exception today.”
It also does not hurt to be close, not just to Reno but to Lake Tahoe and Carson City as well.
Lake Tahoe is just 20 minutes away, for example, which makes it attractive for employees who want to ski or do outdoor activities. Carson City is even closer, which is great if the company needs to do lobbying with state lawmakers or the government.
As far as competition from cities in Texas such as Austin and San Antonio, those areas are certainly attractive, but Northern Nevada continues to have one key advantage to those places. That would be its closer proximity to the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, which continues to exert a strong influence for many corporations.
“Not every company leaving San Francisco wants to go to Texas,” Boyd said. “Many do … but a lot of companies prefer a closer alternative to Texas.”
“We’re already seeing Northern Nevada being short listed for a lot of projects,” Boyd said. “Expect a lot of those projects to cross the finish line in Reno, Fernley, Sparks and Minden, which is a submarket to really keep an eye on.”