B. Borden, J. Lednicky, M. Rebori, L. Thomas, D. Zapata, L. Chichester 2021, Nevada Economic Assessment Project Socioeconomic Baseline Report for Douglas County, Extension, University of Nevada, Reno

Report Overview

The purpose of this report is to provide and use data to showcase socioeconomic and other trends in a county in Nevada. This will give local decision makers—elected officials, educators, nonprofits—the ability to better understand their constituents’ needs.

Counties statewide and nationwide are constantly challenged to make decisions revolving around economic, demographic, and land issues. This crafted report is a tool to respond to those issues with quantitative backings that can help make a case for any decision big or small. These backings are rightfully called a “county baseline,” wherein data that covers all social, demographic, economic, and land measures is delivered in a kindly and easy-to-browse manner. This allows counties to utilize the report as they see fit, and best respond to any current issue with quantitative data.

In short, this report helps counties and communities better understand what makes up their counties and communities. Varying factors in an economic climate, like businesses opening and closing; population increasing or decreasing; and average household size growing and shrinking, all of these factors put pressure on government and businesses themselves to make decisions and react to change. Any possible measure or statistic that may go towards helping make a better decision is included in this report.

It is also important to note that this report is not a one-time attempt at trying to make a one-time change. This report represents a commitment to communities, to counties, to the state, and beyond. Being a data repository of key measures, meaningful for communities, counties, and officials, its purpose is to reach out and help fill those gaps in decision-making, so that everyone may benefit.

Report Layout

Data was gathered from a variety of sources and compiled into a report broken down into easy-to-digest sections.
The report is broken down into six main sections:

  • Demographic Characteristics covers general population demographics, such as population, age, and race
  • Social Characteristics delves into poverty, education, school districts, and other aspects that impact the overall well-being of a community
  • Economic Characteristics examines industry trends, including jobs, average annual earnings, and personal income breakdowns. This section also looks at the Gross Regional Product for the county and its industries, as well as Per Capita Income and how that compares to the statewide level
  • NAICS Sectors takes an in-depth look at how industry contributes to the county’s economy. This includes measures of jobs, imports, earnings, and more.
  • Land Use and Fiscal Characteristics details relevant data involving county land, taxes, and fiscal matters
  • Community Assets is a qualitative look into the existing and desired qualities of the community

Within these sections are subsections consisting of specific economic data, accompanied by detailed tables and corresponding figures. Throughout the report there is an emphasis on changes and trends over the course of given time periods. Accompanying each table and figure are short analyses that highlight these changes and trends.

Cultural Overview

Douglas County is located directly south of Carson City, and about 40 minutes to the south of Reno. To the west lies South Lake Tahoe and Fredericksburg both bordering California cities. In this same area, at the base of the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, Carson Valley comprises Douglas’s beautiful views to Gardnerville, Genoa, Minden, and Topaz Lake. The county seat sits in Minden, where it has for over 100 years. At approximately 738 square miles, Douglas is home to rich history, outdoor recreation, and a community of 47,632 individuals (DETR, 2017). The US-50 takes you up the scenic western border of the county, while the US-395 takes you north and south from Gardnerville Ranchos up to Indian Hills.

History

Douglas was one of the nine original counties as part of the first Nevada Territorial Legislature. Its county seat then, Genoa, was the oldest permanent settlement in Nevada. It was settled in 1851, first known as Mormon Station, and as a part of a number of communities established as trading posts and centers for ranching and farming (see Parks and Recreation History of Douglas County).

Genoa remained the Douglas County seat until a few years after 1910, when much of the town was destroyed by fire, and its population dwindled. Nevertheless, Genoa to this day remains an active Nevadan community with two landscaped parks, two educational museums, a huge non-denominational church rented out for community events. Every year since 1919 (nine years after the fire), the Genoa Candy Dance is celebrated.
Gardnerville was founded differently than Genoa, which was founded mostly on need. The history of Gardnerville is best summed up by the
Carson Valley Nevada site, in that the town “was born into a mix of local economic downturn, marital discord, and prescient thoughts of ‘what could be’ in a dry, sagebrush covered flat.” As the population in nearby Genoa slowly dropped throughout the 1870s, was formed one building at a time. Property was bought out in the sagebrush land, and a house was moved to become the Gardnerville Hotel in 1881, followed by a post office a few months later. Eventually the rights were sold to someone else, and additional services were added until Gardnerville became the ideal place to stop on the way to Esmeralda.

Minden, the current county seat, coming a half a century after Genoa in 1906, was unique in that the town was planned and presented to the County Commission before a single building was built.

Landscape and Climate

Much of Douglas County sits well above sea level with cities such as Minden and Gardnerville sitting at around 4,600 ft, its lowest point sitting at around 1,200 ft. Douglas is full of sunshine about 250 days out of the year, well above the national average of 205 sunny days per year. Snowfall far outpaces rainfall within the county, at 121 inches of snow to 17 inches of rain. Mountain ranges fill the county on both the western and eastern fronts. To the west you can find the Sierra Nevada and Carson Ranges, and to the east the Pine Nut Mountains. Similar to many counties in Nevada, shrublands (46%) and grasslands (27%) cover much of the area in Douglas. Unlike many parts of Nevada, however, Douglas County is made up of 16% forest lands. Much of the forest lands can be seen as one takes the US-50 up past Lakeridge and Glenbrook.

Of the 738 square miles that make up Douglas County, 28 square miles are water. The county is home to a portion of the beautiful Lake Tahoe on its western border. To the south, Douglas also shares Topaz Lake with its neighbors in California. Right in the center of the county, one will find the Dangberg Reservoir system. Flowing from the southwestern border near Mud Lake, the Carson River flows across Douglas, as it exits the county near Indian Hills in the north. Best explained by the Carson Valley Nevada site, Douglas is home to a variety of landscape, from mountain ranges of foliage and pine to reservoirs for water sports and fishing. As Douglas County is home to a stretch of Lake Tahoe, there are a number of outdoor recreation opportunities associated with this area. From hiking and mountain biking when the weather is mild, to the fantastic winter sports at the Lake Tahoe ski resorts. Thousands of locals and tourists flock to this area of the country each year to experience all that Tahoe has to offer.

Community and Events

In addition to outdoor recreation, those looking to experience Douglas County will find an abundance of opportunities to do so. Minden’s historic downtown is home to craft fairs, concerts, and farmers markets year around. For over 100 years the Carson Valley Days event has been run most recently in Gardnerville, usually held in the month of June and spans five days. The Genoa Candy Dance is held in September each year, where attendees experience 300 craft and food vendors, along with live music. Honoring veterans, the Aviation Roundup Show is held at the Minden-Tahoe Airport in October; featuring both national and international performers. For the fisherman, Topaz Lake fishing season opens up on the first of each year and runs through September (Signature Events, n.d).

 

For the complete Economic Assessment of Douglas County, Nevada, use the following link to download the PDF version.

 

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Associated Programs

Thomas Harris speaking to group of Nevada Economic Assessment Project Stakeholders at an update meeting

Nevada Economic Assessment Project (NEAP)

The Nevada Economic Assessment Project focuses on providing Nevada’s counties, state and federal agencies, and their partners with quantitative and qualitative baseline data and analyses to better understand the counties’ demographic, social, economic, fiscal and environmental characteristics, trends and impacts. The data can be used for land use and project planning, grant writing and overall policy assessment.

genoa sign

Nevada Economic Assessment Project (NEAP) - Douglas

NEAP aims to provide county, state and federal agencies, with quantitative and qualitative baseline data for Douglas County

 

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