Mary Owens: The revitalization of Nevada County — Part I |

Mary Owens: The revitalization of Nevada County — Part I

Mary Owens.
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[Ed. note: This is the first column for The Union’s Money Monday section by local businesswoman Mary Owens. Owen’s column, Mary’s Minute, will run monthly.]

This is the beginning of a multi-part series on the revitalization of Nevada County. This is a story of middle class jobs that can support a family and keep our children here as they reach adulthood and begin to provide for families of their own. A story where Nevada County’s rural beauty is cherished while becoming a place that is economically sustainable. A story of a quiet economic resurgence.

When residents of Nevada County are asked to recite the economic history of our area, most think of the Gold Rush Era. And with good reason: just take a look around our county and everything — from the buildings, statues, and art — tells that story. The fever for gold enticed thousands of folks in search of large fortunes to migrate here. Our local history has been made rich by the hundreds of stories about a gold rush society that blossomed and is still celebrated today.

There is another economic story that has created our more current economy. One that has changed many lives for the better, that most of you will remember, and may have even been a participant in. This story has two parts.

The first, a relatively unnoticed technology boom that blossomed outside of the hurried lifestyle of the Bay Area, and continues today. And a second part that is a story for a future column.

Each has had a profoundly positive impact on our local economy, but the history behind them has not been as well understood as the impact from the Gold Rush Era. Together they are a part of an economic reawakening in Nevada County.

But first, a short test for you natives that know our history so well. What was the technological achievement of Nevada County that rocked the world in 1877? Don’t cheat by Googling it — but a slight hint: “Can you hear me now?” asked the French Corral man to the French Lake man. Can’t figure it out? Check out the following website on Nevada County history: Cutting edge technology started early in Nevada County history! Innovation was not limited to just gold mining techniques. Who knew long distance communications started here first?

How about some modern-day technology questions: Do you know the name of the company in Nevada County that broadcasts over 90 percent of worldwide sports? Can you name the company that is located right here in Nevada County, that you use each time you watch a video online? And finally, there are four talking heads on the TV screen. Each one is in a different location, but they can all see one another and chat while you listen in the comfort of your easy chair. What company is this?

If you know all three of these answers, you are up to date on the current Nevada County technology scene.

— Answer number one — drum roll please: Grass Valley, a Belden Brand (used to as known as THE Grass Valley Group). See their story at

— The second: Telestream, located in Nevada City. Another world class company right here in our backyard. See their hardware and software applications that revolutionized the online experience at

— And finally: Ensemble Designs. They created the software that allows worldwide collaboration and broadcast communication to be live in real time. Learn more about them at

These three companies are just a few of the more than 80 technology companies currently located in Nevada County that have changed our lives for the better. These companies bring innovation, middle class jobs with a livable wage and economic stability to our community. Their collective talent fuel progressive innovation which will provide future employment to our youth.

They are Part One of the economic reawakening in Nevada County and I will share their story — and how it impacts you — in more detail in the future.

Stay tuned over the next several months as I write about our county’s current economic issues. We will also discuss topics that impact your lives directly: childcare challenges to fresh salad bars for our local schools. But more importantly, we will discuss how all of these economic threads tie together to make a better stronger community for all of us in the future.

Mary E. Owens, CPA, MS is Principal/President of Investments, Branch Manager, RJFS for Owens Estate and Wealth Strategies Group, an independent firm located at 426 Sutton Way, Suite 110, Grass Valley (530-272-7500), Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services. Any opinions are those of Mary Owens and not necessarily those of Raymond James. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website’s users and/or members.

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