PopulationMetro: 443,855
On the edge of Nevada, a casino town goes all in on art, culture and innovation.

That buzz you hear in Reno? It’s no longer just the neon on the city’s iconic “Biggest Little City in the World” sign but the sound of Tesla’s gigafactory battery plant drawing tech companies from all over.

As part of the deal with the state of Nevada, the company received 980 acres of free land and more than $1 billion in tax breaks. Apple, Amazon, Alphabet and Switch have already made the move to the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center (TRI), one of the largest industrial park in the world. Others are beating a path to Reno’s wide-open door.

“It made sense to establish the factory here.” – Elon Musk

As it pulls in new companies, the most sought-after talent on the planet right now—diverse, highly educated creative/knowledge workers—are close behind. Most can’t believe their lifestyle luck: the city on the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada is located 30 minutes from crystal-clear Lake Tahoe to the west and the strikingly barren Black Rock Desert to the northeast, with Yosemite a short road trip to the southwest. Reno offers newcomers an invigorating taste of all four seasons. Perhaps more important, housing is affordable (for now).

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The city is also stepping out from the glow of its 20 casinos and nurturing a blooming arts and music scene that scatters installations, sculptures and murals around the city. A leisurely stroll or bike ride through MidTown or downtown means coming face-to-face with giant art pieces straight from Burning Man’s Black Rock City, just 100 miles away. The tech titans who frequent the festival will surely start scheduling a few meetings at their Reno branches on the way to the Burning Man Metropol.

Not content to be simply another new player in advanced manufacturing, Reno is also becoming a living lab for the next big innovation in public transit. The University of Nevada, in partnership with the electric bus company Proterra, is leading the industry in mobility technologies. And now a Hyperloop route all the way from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Reno is apparently being considered for cargo. Big Little City indeed.