Bulls in a China Shop

What’s your favorite Reno Rodeo event? If you’re like me, it’s bull riding. I love it! Three-quarter-ton of mean and ornery flesh set loose from the gate with one sole solitary purpose: to destroy the unwelcome passenger on his back. There’s an old saying about a “bull in a china shop.” Usually, it has to do with someone or something (usually an 8-year-old boy!) walking into a perfectly nice room filled with nice things and somehow managing to destroy nearly everything in sight. Total mayhem is completely disrupting everything. Some would say that northern Nevada has some “bulls in our china shop” these days. There are huge musclebound companies disrupting our fragile china shop of an economy and infrastructure.

The much-heralded arrival of companies like Tesla, Switch and most recently Google, have many Nevadans excited about the prospect of economic diversity and growth. These companies bring with them the promise of more jobs, better jobs and ultimately more revenue to a state that is fundamentally opposed to having an income tax on individuals. These companies join others who have sought expansion here like Intuit, Microsoft, Amazon, Jet.com, Zulily and dozens of others.

Yet others are concerned that the arrival of these titans has put northern Nevada in the midst of economic turmoil. There is a housing crisis. More specifically, there is an affordable housing crisis. There is a shortage of classrooms, teachers, physicians, and nurses. There are scarcely enough roads to handle the expected increase in traffic caused by the influx of residents. Our higher education system is struggling to keep up with the demand for trained, qualified workers.

Bulls in a China ShopSmaller employers are struggling to fill the positions they need to grow their business.  As northern Nevada hums along at full employment, there is a shortage of human resources. And when you run out of resources, you can no longer grow. Just like a car that runs out of gas, until you find some more gas, that car is going nowhere. Can we place all of the blame on the “bulls”? Consider this. Which group causes more challenges, is it the one mega-employer filling 4,000 jobs or 4,000 small companies each filling one job? The answer is it really doesn’t matter.

None of it matters without a clear vision for where we are headed. When I’m putting together a puzzle, trying to figure out where all of the seemingly random pieces go, I need to look at the cover of the box with the finished picture as a guide. Without that, I may never complete the puzzle, and even if I do, it may be wrong. How would I know? Our leaders need to show us a clear picture of what the endgame looks like and unite us under a common banner, moving forward, together.

How do we come up with a plan that’s agreeable to everyone? Is that even possible anymore? We seem to have lost the ability to compromise. We have forgotten how to have peaceful discourse. We need to be reminded of how to have constructive conflict and how to reach an accord. It has been said, “A really good compromise is one that leaves both sides equally dissatisfied.” But I say, a compromise where no one is happy is fundamentally flawed. I still believe in the win-win.  I’m not taking sides here or even offering solutions. I just want us to consider that to have a successful plan, there first has to be a plan.

So, what do we do about these “bulls in the china shop?” Well, since June is here, I say ride ‘em!  Glove up, git in the chute, open the gate and count to eight! Have a great June everyone, and I’ll see you at the Reno Rodeo!

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