One of Truckee’s largest employers, Clear Capital, has a big decision to make in the next three years when its lease is up at the Pioneer Center. The national real estate data services company has expanded to more than 300 full-time employees in just a decade, outgrowing its current space, and would like to own its own building.
Currently, the company takes up three buildings and approximately 40,000 square feet at the Pioneer Center, but it is looking for room to grow. Clear Capital’s leadership is eyeing three options: stay where it’s currently located and extend its lease with owner Ciro Mancuso, lease land from the Truckee Tahoe Airport and construct its own building, or move out of state to Nevada. While the private company is mulling its options, stakeholders, including the Town of Truckee, are doing what they can to keep, or attract, the large employer.
“Obviously, we have a homegrown company that employs 300 people locally and provides us with a critical employment diversification that we strive for,” said Truckee Town Manager Tony Lashbrook. “Keeping jobs here is a big deal.”
According to Clear Capital’s President Kevin Marshall, the corporation brings in approximately $25 million a year to the community. Lashbrook did not know the direct revenue that the company brings to Truckee, but did note the town receives $22,000 a year in property tax revenue from 60,000 square foot buildings, which is the size facility that Clear Capital would build.
Finding a Stable, Cost-Effective Option
Clear Capital has been in Truckee since it opened in 2001 with an office above the Blue Coyote. In 2002, the company moved into a 3,500 square foot building in the Pioneer Center, and has been growing ever since.
“This is really our home,” Marshall said of Truckee, though he noted that “home” presents some challenging expenses that come with being a California corporation in a mountain town — cost of facilities and staff, high property taxes, weather-related issues, etc. “We are trying to do economic development here. It is a hard proposition for a company. …They are not our buildings, so we are limited in what we can do. As a business, we have to look at all of our options.”
And one option that looks quite good financially is moving to Nevada, which has incentives for businesses to move to the state that include sales and use tax abatement, real property tax abatements for recycling, employee training grants, and assistance with the cost of intellectual property development. Although Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office said it could not comment because of “confidentiality reasons,” Marshall said his company has been talking to Sandoval’s economic development department.
“Nevada is aggressive in going after us. We know Nevada is right there,” Marshall said. “Really, they want to bring jobs to Nevada. They have a laser focus on us.”
Although there are many incentives for Clear Capital to relocate to Nevada, particularly near the University of Nevada, Reno, Marshall said, “We still emotionally like being in Truckee.”
The Town of Truckee’s Lashbrook remains very aware of the firm’s dilemma, while also trying to offer incentives from the town.
“Nevada has the ability to wheel and deal with tax incentives that we don’t have. It’s cheaper to do business in Nevada than California,” Lashbrook said. “If they are making a strictly financial decision, they would move to Nevada, but I don’t think that is the case.”
Clear Capital has hired San Francisco-based development firm JMA Ventures, which owns properties on the North Shore and in Truckee, to handle all development deals with the Truckee Tahoe Airport. Marshall said the company is currently looking at 8 acres next to the runway on Soaring Way. It would have a long-term lease and build a brand new building, anywhere from 60,000 to 80,000 square feet. That would allow it to grow and double its employee base.
“It’s a great, viable option,” Marshall said of moving to airport property. “It’s not a sure thing at the airport. We’re trying to figure out how Clear Capital can continue to thrive in this small community.”
Truckee Tahoe Airport General Manager Kevin Smith said a letter of intent has been signed and Clear Capital was given a lease rate of .60 to .68 cents per square foot. He expects the company to respond next month. After a lease is agreed upon, the Federal Aviation Administration would have to approve the lease, which could take anywhere from four months to a year.
“Private land leasings are very common in airports around the country,” Smith said. “We’re excited about the proposal, but Clear Capital has to make some decisions.”
Although the land it could move to is in an unincorporated part of Truckee, Lashbrook said there are still issues the town needs to consider, including police protection and traffic impacts. He said for a building the size that Clear Capital wants to construct, the company would need to come up with an additional $500,000 to $600,000 for traffic concerns. Lashbrook said the town could offer the company a forgivable loan to cover the traffic impact fees.
“We’re talking about potential incentives to address town-related costs that would be provided based on living wage jobs long-term,” Lashbrook said.
Both Marshall and Clear Capital CEO Duane Andrews live in North Tahoe/Truckee, and Marshall says the main reason for moving the business to Truckee from the Bay Area in the early days was because of the caliber of employees in the area. It is important to Marshall, who calls the corporation an “anomaly” in Truckee, for the company to find a “stable, cost-effective” home while also keeping true to what they love about the area. But they are only in the early stages of their decision-making, and still have time to figure out where Clear Capital will call home.
“The Airport Board, Truckee, and Ciro have been great in keeping us here. It’s tricky,” Marshall said. “We value that very much.
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