Starbucks would mean big bucks to Douglas County |

Starbucks would mean big bucks to Douglas County

by Jeff Munson

An industry that is clean, pays its employees well and enjoys a firm, financially sound future is what the Carson Valley wants and officials are hoping Seattle-based Starbucks Coffee delivers.

Business leaders say they welcome the coffee powerhouse, which has expressed interest in building a 300,000-square-foot roasting and processing plant near Johnson Lane in the Carson Valley Business Park.

The fact Starbucks scouted the area indicates the message is getting out about what kind of business and industry the Carson Valley wants, said Suzanne Rosevold, executive director of the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Authority.

“Our target marketing is working. The word is getting out,” Rosevold said. “We want clean industry, not rubber plants and burning tires.”

Douglas County is competing with Stead and Fernley for the plant. If Starbucks chooses the Carson Valley, the company will need a height variance for silos to store its coffee at the Johnson Lane site.

County officials say the variance shouldn’t be a problem, and Starbucks has expressed a willingness to work with the community.

On May 8, the coffee giant will ask the Douglas County Planning Commission for a variance allowing the 80-foot silos. County regulations limit height to 45 feet.

The closest plant in size to what Starbucks would like to bring to Douglas County is the high-tech Bently Nevada Corp., and officials believe the impact would be positive.

A Starbucks plant would infuse the tax base in the county by about $114,000 annually, said Assessor Barbara Byington, with state and local government and schools getting the lion’s share.

Others say a company like Starbucks would boost the economy.

When a company opens and employs local residents, the disposable income trickles down into the community, said County Manager Dan Holler. Whether it’s buying new homes, shopping or recreating locally, a plant of the magnitude Starbucks wants would bring in cash.

“This would bring a whole new economic infusion to the county,” Holler said.

Kris Holt, director of the Northern Nevada Economic Authority, said landing a Starbucks plant would give Douglas County desirable industry.

“This is the kind of industry we’ve targeted for the area,” Holt said. “They’re a non-polluter, and low-water user. They provide high wages and a solid benefits package. And, they’re a fantastic corporate citizen.”

Also excited about the prospects are builders.

“It would definitely be a great shot in the arm to us,” said Carole Thompson of the Douglas County Building Industry Association.

A company that provides good paying jobs will lead to more employees looking to build homes in the area and spend money. Now, small businesses in the county are barely surviving, she said.

On the other hand, Thompson worries that people against growth will try to stop the company.

“We will have obstacles from the no-growthers out there,” Thompson said. “We need to be prepared because if they stop this, then we may as well put on our bedroom slippers because that’s what we’re going to be: A no-growth bedroom community.”

Besides the variance, other factors could play into the decision, including transportation. Starbucks officials said Douglas County is a good location for distribution, with Highway 395 north and south and access to Interstate 80.

While the communities of Stead and Fernley are also gunning for the coffee company and have the advantage of rail service, Starbucks chose to go public with its Douglas County prospects because it needs to know whether it will be welcomed.

Starbucks is looking to Nevada to expand its Southern California and southwestern distribution.

The potential site is a 50-acre lot at the Carson Valley Business Park. The plant would be low-impact environmentally and use a minimal amount of water, officials said.

Starbucks could decide within 30-45 days and needs about 18 months to prepare, build and open the plant for business, company officials said.

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