Posts Tagged ‘Economic Development’

Hearing On Apple Tax Breaks Generates No Public Comment, Will Be Reviewed Wednesday By State Economic Board

By Sean Whaley | 3:26 pm July 30th, 2012

CARSON CITY – There were no takers today for the chance to weigh in on $89 million in tax breaks being offered to Apple in exchange for the company building a data center and related facilities in the Reno area that are expected to bring $1 billion in investment over the next decade.

The hearing on the proposed sales and personal property tax abatements, made as part of a deal to bring Apple to Northern Nevada, did not generate a single comment.

Today’s hearing, conducted by Steve Hill, director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, was continued to Wednesday when the Economic Development Board, including Gov. Brian Sandoval, will consider the tax breaks in a special meeting.

Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office on Economic Development. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

But Hill said the ultimate decision to grant the incentives to Apple will be his to make under the provisions of the law creating the new agency approved by the 2011 Legislature.

Some questions have been raised about whether the tax breaks offered to bring Apple to Nevada will be a good investment over the long term.

But Hill said he has not heard any comments from people who are highly upset about the proposal.

“I think it’s reasonable to question, OK, is that a good deal and why is that a good deal and should we continue to make those kind of deals as we go forward,” he said. “We have not heard a lot of, ‘you should not have done this.’ ”

“In my opinion this is a terrific deal for Northern Nevada,” Hill said. “In order for us to be competitive, our tax structure, or the abatements that we give out, are going to have to make us competitive as a place.”

Sandoval has already gone on record as supporting the tax incentives. In an interview on Nevada NewsMakers last month, he said: “There are 49 other states who would have loved to have what we have. And there were negotiations that went on back-and-forth. I had an opportunity to meet with some of the Apple officials early on and I think it was a great outcome for Nevada.

“I think it’s going to be a very strong magnet for us,” he said. “It shows that we’re in the game. It’s very competitive for these data centers across the United States. And Apple is going to look to see where we can go.”

Hill said after the hearing today that other firms have contacted his office inquiring what the state has to offer following the announcement of the Apple deal. There is no guarantee that the same level or type of abatements will be offered to other companies that may want to relocate here, he said.

The Washoe County Commission, the Washoe County School Board and the Reno City Council have all already given their approval to deal.

The sales tax abatement will mean Apple will pay only half a percent of the levy on what they buy during as part of the agreement, Hill said. The personal property tax abatement is worth 85 percent, but does not include construction-related activity. The first $100 million in construction by Apple includes no abatements, Hill said.

The abatements are contingent upon Apple making a minimum investment in its facilities in the Reno area during the life of the agreement.

The company will end up paying a minimum of $20 million in a variety of taxes over 10 years as a result of the abatements.

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Audio clips:

Steve Hill, director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, says people are right to ask questions about the Apple agreement:

073012Hill1 :28 have done this.’ “

Hill says he believes the deal is terrific for Northern Nevada:

073012Hill2 :19 as a place.”

 

Nevada Small Business Owners Say Minimum Wage, Construction Defect Laws Hampering Job Growth

By Sean Whaley | 2:27 pm February 14th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Members of the Nevada chapter of a small business organization say the state’s minimum wage and construction defects laws are hampering job growth in the state.

The state’s prevailing wage law was also cited as a drag on economic development in the survey of its members by the Nevada chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Randi Thompson, Nevada state director of NFIB, said about 50 of the 1,800 members statewide responded to the survey, which was conducted in December and delivered to Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

Hill had asked what laws and regulations needed to be changed to spur job growth in Nevada.

“We were delighted at the invitation and jumped at the chance to contribute our members’ ideas on how to get our state’s economy moving again,” Thompson said. “When coupled with the results from our regular annual balloting of NFIB members, the results of which will be out soon, we believe the state will have a much firmer grasp on where it needs to go once it has the opinions of the Nevada’s leading job-generators.”

Thompson said Gov. Brian Sandoval has made it clear that he wants to make the state an even more business friendly state with his call earlier this month to eliminate or revamp more than 1,700 state regulations following a one-year review.

“Small businesses account for nearly two thirds of all new hires on average, making them a critical component to lead Nevada out of this recession,” she said.

Sandoval said today he believes all three issues will come up for discussion in the 2013 legislative session based on what he has heard from some lawmakers.

Sandoval said he supported changes to the construction defect legislation in 2011 and will do so again next year.

“Particularly with regard to mandatory attorneys’ fees in those cases,” he said. “I’d like to see some reform with regard to that. I’ve had several conversations with the contractors on that issue.”

Thompson said repealing Nevada’s minimum wage law will not be a top priority in 2013 just because of the time it takes to change the state constitution.

“I think the one we can take a bite-sized chunk out of is the construction defects,” she said. “My folks pretty much just want to revoke it. They want to pull out the whole chapter. They don’t want to sit down and negotiate it. It is so driven towards lawyers and not toward protecting consumers that that law needs dramatic change.”

Changes to the prevailing wage law would give taxpayers more public construction projects for their money, Thompson said.

“You still will make a good living wage, but prevailing wage is not a market-based wage,” she said. “And the way we do prevailing wage in this state is probably something else that our Labor Commissioner needs to look at.”

Respondents to the NFIB survey said they wanted to entirely revoke the construction defects law contained in Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 40, which Thompson said opens the door to class action lawsuits against any contractor or subcontractor involved in building homes, apartments, or condominiums – regardless of responsibility for the defect.

Ray Pezonella, owner of Pezonella Associates, an engineering firm in Reno, said that construction-defects legal fees costs him anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 each year, whether his work was connected to the defect or not. Because that amount is below his insurance deductible, he has to pay for it directly.

Reno businessman Ray Pezonella. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

“The lawyers just sit down and tell you it will cost you ‘X’ to settle the suit, or we’ll go to court,” Pezonella said. “Even if we did nothing wrong on the job, we write them a check. Where is the justice in that?”

The concern with the minimum wage provision in the state constitution is that it has the effect of setting the Nevada rate at $1 over the federal minimum wage rate.

Thompson said there is interest in the small business community for removing such “tax and wage” issues from the state’s constitution, or in the alternative, seeking an exemption for tipped employees.

Tax policy should not be set in the constitution, she said.

Voters put the minimum wage rate in the state constitution, however, and repealing it would require the state Legislature to approve a change in two sessions, which would then have to be approved by voters.

State Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, introduced legislation in the 2011 session to begin the process of removing the minimum wage requirement from the state constitution, but the measure did not survive.

Voters overwhelmingly approved the minimum wage proposal, which continues to be strongly defended by the Nevada state AFL-CIO, which qualified the measure for the ballot.

Thompson said the third issue, which is the practice of paying prevailing wage on government funded construction projects such as schools and roads, is a concern because it adds to the costs that must be paid by taxpayers.

Some states have implemented changes to their prevailing wage laws, and some Nevada lawmakers are considering changes as well, she said.

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Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says all three issues are expected to be debated in the 2013 legislative session:

021412Sandoval1 :08 debated in 2013.”

Sandoval says he supports changes to the construction defect law:

021412Sandoval2 :23 on that issue.”

Randi Thompson, Nevada state director of NFIB, says changes to the construction defect law are possible in 2013:

021412Thompson1 :21 needs dramatic change.”

Thompson says reforming the prevailing wage law would save taxpayer money:

021412Thompson2 :15 to look at.”

 

Gov. Sandoval Says Elimination Of Unnecessary Regulations Will Aid In Economic Development Efforts

By Sean Whaley | 5:20 pm February 7th, 2012

RENO – Gov. Brian Sandoval said today his plan to repeal 654 unnecessary regulations will assist in the state’s efforts at economic diversification and job creation by making Nevada more business friendly.

In addition to the repeal of more than 600 rules, another 1,100 will be updated as a result of an executive order he issued in January 2011 imposing a one-year freeze and calling for his cabinet to thoroughly review the entire regulatory framework of the state. The review was finalized last week.

Most regulations that will be repealed come from agencies that impact businesses and individuals directly – 137 regulations in the Department of Business and Industry, 120 in the Department of Motor Vehicles and 95 in the Department of Taxation.

The Nevada DMV will see 120 regulations repealed.

Today Sandoval said a less burdensome regulatory system will help Nevada attract jobs.

“My goal is to make Nevada the most business-friendly state in the country,” he said. “I think that sent an incredible message that we’re in Nevada are going to have important regulations that are business friendly, and we think that it’s going to have a large impact and compliments what this plan does today.

“Over-regulation in other states has suffocated business and we think that that is going to be a very attractive component of our ability to attract those businesses to come to our state,” Sandoval said.

At the Department of Motor Vehicles, the regulation which requires schools for training drivers to establish a place of business located in Nevada is being repealed. Repeal was recommended because requiring internet based schools to establish a place of business in the state constitutes an unnecessary burden with little to no increased consumer protection (NAC 483.766(1)(a)).

In the Manufactured Housing Division (MHD), NAC 461.125 is being repealed. The regulation requires that every manufactured building in the state equipped with a toilet have a label affixed to it indicating the maximum amount of water the toilet uses for each flush. The MHD states that this regulation is duplicative and unnecessary.

During the freeze, all regulations were reviewed to determine if they were still necessary, to identify any adverse impact on business, to clarify language and address duplication or inconsistencies, and to determine if the public value outweighed the cost of the regulation itself.

“With my executive order, I established a set of regulatory priorities for this administration  – namely, to protect the health and welfare of the people of Nevada without discouraging economic growth,” Sandoval said.

Additionally, Sandoval has given his cabinet specific directions to refocus their approach to rule-making. Regulations will not be frozen, but every regulatory body will be required to notify the governor’s office of proposed actions and include notice of how the proposed regulation is consistent with Sandoval’s priority to keep Nevada’s economy moving.

“My office will provide a thorough review of the rule-making process to ensure government doesn’t get in the way of job growth,” Sandoval said.

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Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says his goal is to make Nevada the most business-friendly state in the country:

020712Sandoval1 :14 plan does today.”

Sandoval says over-regulation has suffocated businesses in other states:

020712Sandoval2 :09 to our state.”

Gov. Sandoval Unveils State Economic Development Plan, Calls For 50,000 New Jobs By The End Of 2014

By Sean Whaley | 3:41 pm February 7th, 2012

RENO – Gov. Brian Sandoval used the University of Nevada, Reno today as a backdrop to unveil his economic development plan, and he challenged the business community and all partners to work to create 50,000 new jobs by the end of 2014.

The 63-page report, “Moving Nevada Forward: A Plan for Excellence in Economic Development 2012 – 2014” calls for creating a cohesive system to move forward with economic development, expand “global engagement” and increase opportunity thorough education and workforce development, among other objectives.

“This (report) is a blueprint for building a vibrant, sustainable economy for all Nevadans,” Sandoval said. “It puts us in a better position to succeed in the hyper-competitive push to champion a strong economy that creates good jobs.

Gov. Brian Sandoval talks about Nevada's economic diversification plan today at UNR. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

“State government will play a role by advocating for business, providing the infrastructure that helps business thrive, and helping to educate our future workforce,” he said. “The plan spells out our efforts.”

A key component of achieving job growth is a $10 million Catalyst Fund created in cooperation with the Legislature to help existing Nevada businesses expand and to encourage other businesses to relocate to the state.

“So I’m issuing a challenge today, to all of our partners in building this economy,” Sandoval said. “We must create 50,000 jobs by the end of 2014, the 150th anniversary of Nevada becoming a state.”

Plan developed with help of business community, policy makers

The plan was developed by Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, after consultation with business leaders and policy-makers from around the state. The report piggybacked on a report prepared by the Brookings Institution and SRI International that was delivered to the state Board of Economic Development in November outlining how Nevada could move forward with economic diversification and job growth.

The Brookings report identified seven economic sectors, some already in existence such as gaming and tourism, and some emerging, such as clean energy, where Nevada should focus its efforts.

That report received some criticism for lacking specifics of how to achieve job growth in Nevada, which has the highest unemployment rate in the country.

Hill was directed to prepare a plan that would be a working document that the public can easily understand.

The report says that Nevada’s assets for economic development include more than 40 million visitors annually, the largest gold producer in the country, and its national defense opportunities at Nellis Air Force Base and the other military installations around the state.

The state has serious liabilities as well, however, including a disjointed economic strategy, an under-performing education system and a workforce that is not trained for new job opportunities.

Hill said an economic development plan is critical given the current state of the economy.

“We don’t have to worry going forward whether Nevada will be connected to the globe, it will be,” he said. “And we need to learn how to capitalize on that better. So, globalizing, both in terms of exporting, in terms of foreign investment in Nevada, bring good jobs, it brings additional financing and investment in the state and is an area that we need to focus on.”

The plan also focuses on the need for education reform, Hill said.

“We all know that we need a higher level of education achievement in order to drive this economy forward,” he said.

The plan also has benchmarks to assess whether Nevada is achieving its ambitious job-creation goals, Hill said.

Following the release of the plan, Sandoval and Hill toured a Reno business, the Pacific Cheese Company, where president Steve Gaddis said he expects continued expansion of the company with more jobs added in the coming months. The company has a plant in California as well.

Gov. Brian Sandoval meets today with Steve Gaddis of the Pacific Cheese Co. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

The company had 33 employees early last year and has 99 employees now. Gaddis said he expects to expand to 120 to 130 workers by February 2013. Almost all of the workers have been hired locally, Gaddis said.

Gaddis said the first plus for Nevada as a place to do business is the fact that it is not California.

“For us it’s the combination of regional supply logistics, a good labor force, the tax factor attracts us a lot because most of what we will save in Nevada will clearly go back in this business to create jobs and growth,” he said.

NPRI says plan raises constitutionality concerns

The plan generated some immediate criticism from the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a conservative think tank.

Geoffrey Lawrence, deputy policy director at NPRI, said the intent of the plan is to substitute the government for private businesses and politically connected bureaucrats for entrepreneurs. He questioned whether it is constitutional.

“It is a roadmap for crony capitalism and would lead to less productivity and less growth,” he said. “It is clearly unconstitutional. In short, this plan would take Nevada 180 degrees in the wrong direction.”

Lawrence said the state constitution declares that the state shall not donate or loan money, or its credit, subscribe to or be, interested in the stock of any company, association, or corporation, except corporations formed for educational or charitable purposes.

Giving subsidies to private businesses, as this plan calls for, is unconstitutional, he said.

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Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says the report is a blueprint for building a vibrant, sustainable economy:

020712Sandoval1 :19 creates good jobs.”

Sandoval says state government’s role will involve advocating for business, providing infrastructure and educating the future workforce:

020712Sandoval2 :15 out our efforts.”

Sandoval says he wants 50,000 new jobs by the end of 2014:

020712Sandoval3 :18 becoming a state.”

Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office on Economic Development, says globalizing Nevada is a key element of the plan:

020712Hill :26 to focus on.”

Pacific Cheese Company President Steve Gaddis says Nevada is attractive both because of a good labor force and low taxes:

020712Gaddis :16 jobs and growth.”

 

 

State Job Creation Efforts Move Forward With Funding Of New Economic Development Office

By Sean Whaley | 6:00 pm December 15th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Efforts by Gov. Brian Sandoval and state lawmakers to encourage new business creation, relocation and expansion in Nevada took a major step forward today when the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee approved nearly $3.5 million to fund a new economic development office.

The funding will enable Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office on Economic Development, to develop a state economic development plan and hire the staff needed to move forward on private sector job creation efforts.

Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office on Economic Development. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

The state plan, relying in part on research performed by the Brookings Institution and SRI International, is expected to be released in early February. The report identified seven economic sectors, some already in existence such as gaming and tourism, and some emerging, such as clean energy, where Nevada should focus its efforts.

Lawmakers peppered Hill with questions ranging from the measures that will be used to determine the success of his agency’s efforts at job creation to the proposed salaries of the eight positions that will be filled with a portion of the funding.

Positions approved for his office include three industry specialists at a maximum salary of $110,000 each, an industry analyst with a maximum salary of $90,000, a communications manager with a maximum salary of $80,000, and a technology commercialization director with a maximum salary of $110,000. There are also two support positions with maximum salaries of $40,000.

The new approach to economic development is the result of Assembly Bill 449, a measure sponsored by Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, and supported by Gov. Brian Sandoval and a bipartisan group of state lawmakers. The bill also established a $10 million Catalyst Fund to help firms relocated or expand in Nevada. The money will be used to provide grants to local governments for economic development projects.

“I am in the process of finishing my 10th week on the job,” Hill told lawmakers. “And I think I can provide very solid reasons for the request that we’re making today. But we’re also learning as we’re going along. We understand that resources are tight, not only throughout Nevada but through the country, and we want to spend this money in the most effective and efficient way possible.”

In response to lawmaker questions, Hill said the state plan will include ways to measure the success of the new effort.

“There will be a detailed description of how we will measure progress in economic development and in the development of our economy in the state,” he said.

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, chairwoman of the IFC, asked Hill if the funding request is premature since the state plan has not yet been published.

“So I think the question is, without the state plan, where is the confidence level in moving forward with all of these positions and this work without the state plan being done, kind of relying solely on the Brookings report?” she asked.

Hill said the budget request will be in alignment with the state plan.

“And finally I think we all sense, the governor and the Legislature, everybody involved in economic development throughout the state, and the citizens of Nevada, an urgency to get started on this,” he said.

Nevada’s unemployment rate is the highest in the nation.

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Audio clips:

Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office on Economic Development says he wants to spend the money as efficiently as possible:

121511Hill1 :27 efficient way possible.”

Hill says the state plan will provide clear ways to measure progress:

121511Hill2 :11 in the state.”

Hill says there is an urgency to get started on the agency’s efforts:

121511Hill3 :16 started on this.”

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith questions the timing of the funding request without a state plan in place:

121511Smith :23 the Brookings report.”

 

Northern Nevada Government And Business Leaders Gather To Push Forward On Economic Development

By Sean Whaley | 2:00 am November 18th, 2011

RENO – Officials and business leaders attending a regional summit on economic development here on Thursday emphasized the need to work together regionally to bring in new employers and create jobs.

The summit, called ReCharge Nevada, was attended by about 300 government officials and business representatives to help create a unified front on efforts to help reverse the state’s highest-in-the-nation unemployment rate.

Reno Mayor Bob Cashell said his hope is that all the western Nevada communities will learn to work together on economic development and diversification. It’s not just Reno-Sparks anymore, but job creation efforts have to encompass the counties and cities from Fernley to Yerington, he said.

Reno Mayor Bob Cashell speaks at ReCharge Nevada. / Nevada News Bureau.

“Businesses have to quit undercutting each other,” Cashell said. “And we need to work together. Businesses need to work together. Because what’s good for your business is good for my business. There’s a lot of hard work in front of us now.”

Mike Kazmierski, the newly appointed president and CEO of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada who came to the job from Colorado Springs, said the meeting is an important first step to getting everyone to work together.

“The first thing we need to do as a region is accept the fact that together we’re going to be stronger,” he said. “And it’s really not just an agency’s responsible to do economic development, it’s every single person’s responsibility.

“And people while they are flying, while they are talking to friends, and neighbors and businesses, need to talk about why they live here,” Kazmierski said. “That’s all they need to say because they live here for a reason.”

At the same time officials were gathered at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center to work on economic development strategies, Gov. Brian Sandoval was in Las Vegas making a similar pitch to the Nevada Development Authority.

The emphasis on diversification and job growth come just as a new report on how to achieve the state’s goals was released on Monday to Gov. Brian Sandoval and the members of the newly constituted Board of Economic Development, created with bipartisan support from the 2011 Legislature.

The report, a joint effort by the Brookings Institution and the Stanford Research Institute, now known as SRI International, identifies seven economic sectors, some already in existence such as gaming and tourism, and some emerging such as clean energy, where Nevada should focus its efforts.

The state has put some green, in the form of cash, into the effort as well.

Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office on Economic Development, said the state has established a $10 million Catalyst Fund to help firms relocated or expand in Nevada. The money will be used to provide grants to local governments for economic development projects.

Hill said it is important that the money be spent efficiently and strategically to pursue the types of economic sectors the state is targeting.

Sandoval and local government officials around the state are focusing on economic development and job creation as Nevada continues to suffer from the recession that first emerged in December 2007. The state has lost 170,000 jobs in that time.

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Audio clips:

Nevada economic development official Mike Kazmierski says unity is important for economic development efforts to succeed:

111711Kazmierski1 :18 single person’s responsibility.”

Kazmierski says everyone can help in the effort:

111711Kazmierski2 :09 for a reason.”

 

Economic Diversification Report Provides Roadmap For Nevada Job Creation

By Sean Whaley | 6:43 pm November 14th, 2011

CARSON CITY – A report outlining how Nevada can grow and diversify its economy says much more could be done now in the areas of health and medical services, and that clean energy and aerospace/defense are emerging sectors that could bring skilled jobs to the state.

The report, a joint effort by the Brookings Institution and the Stanford Research Institute, now known as SRI International, was presented today to Gov. Brian Sandoval and the other members of the Board of Economic Development, a new panel created with bipartisan support from the 2011 Legislature.

It identifies seven economic sectors, some already in existence such as gaming and tourism, and some emerging such as clean energy, where Nevada should focus its efforts.

Sandoval has made job creation his top priority as governor, and said the report should help the state direct its economic diversification efforts in more targeted ways. In an interview in September, Sandoval said Nevada can’t take a “shotgun” approach to economic development, but instead must focus on those areas that can produce the desired result of economic diversification and job production.

Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office on Economic Development, said the study is “meant to inform Nevadans, and inform our office, as we work to develop a state plan, a state plan we will now begin to work on.”

State Economic Development official Steve Hill comments on the new report, as Gov. Brian Sandoval, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki and Secretary of State Ross Miller listen. / Nevada News Bureau.

“We obviously have a sense of urgency in the state right now,” he said.

The report, titled “Unify/Regionalize/Diversify: An Economic Agenda for Nevada,” notes that the state has lost nearly 170,000 jobs since the recession began in December 2007. Nevada continues to have the highest unemployment rate in the nation.

An overview of the research was presented to the board by Bruce Katz, vice president of the Metropolitan Policy Program of the Brookings Institution.

“There is much work to do,” he said. “Fortunately we believe AB449, which you signed into law over the summer, sets the frame for a new kind of economic development operating system for the state. And what our report, our agenda, has tried to do, is help put you on a path to a different kind of economic growth.

“Obviously more innovative growth, more balanced growth so you’re not subject to the same volatility that you were during the recession, and growth that is more globally engaged, so you can take advantage of rising global demand, particularly in emerging nations,” Katz said.

Bruce Katz, vice president of the Metropolitan Policy Program of the Brookings Institution, speaks at the Board of Economic Development meeting today. / Nevada News Bureau.

Nevada in the past has lacked an overarching strategy for economic diversification, he said.

“Nevada doesn’t lack for assets and opportunities, but it needs to do a better job of aligning diverse efforts, supporting creative initiatives in the regions, and putting in place a platform of innovation efforts, global outreach, and workforce upgrading on which regional clusters and sectors can grow,” said Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings and the lead author of the report. “That’s why we are calling this agenda “Unify/Regionalize/Diversify.”

The health and medical services sector was identified as under-performing in Nevada. Nationally this sector has a 9 percent share of employment, but represents only 5.9 percent of employment in Nevada.

Emerging industries Nevada should focus on are business information technology ecosystems, clean energy, logistics and operations and aerospace and defense, the report says.

The report also highlights ways Nevada can capitalize on its existing core industries of tourism, gaming and employment and mining, materials and manufacturing.

Southern Nevada, for example, is the global hub of the gaming industry, and it has the potential to develop in the areas of online gaming, among other opportunities, the report says.

Sandoval last week announced that he will be convening the Gaming Policy Committee as part of an effort to preserve Nevada’s leadership role in gaming given the changing technology, including the potential of online gaming.

Audio clips:

State Economic official Steve Hill says the report will now allow Nevada to develop a plan to capitalize on its findings:

111411Hill :31 look at it.”

Bruce Katz with The Brookings Institution says the report will help Nevada diversify its economy in new ways:

1111411Katz1 :21 of economic growth.”

Katz says the plan will allow for more balanced growth:

111411Katz2 :15 in emerging nations.”

Gov. Sandoval Announces Economic Development Staff Changes

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 12:28 pm September 22nd, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval has appointed Steve Hill as interim executive director of the newly created Office of Economic Development, a cabinet level position in his administration.

Steve Hill has been named interim executive director of the newly created Office of Economic Development by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Hill will be joined at the office by Terri Janison. Sandoval also announced Sonia Joya will join his office as Southern Nevada director.

Sandoval announced the appointments Wednesday.

Hill is currently the senior vice president at CalPortland, a concrete, sand and gravel supplier in the Las Vegas area. He will begin his new job with the Sandoval administration on Oct. 3

During Governor-elect Sandoval’s transition, Hill served as chairman of the Economic Development Policy Committee and advised Sandoval, Assembly Speaker John Oceguera and Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford on economic development issues in preparation for the 2011 legislative session. Hill is also a current member of the Commission on Economic Development.

In his position as interim executive director, Hill will be responsible for developing a State Plan for Economic Development and criteria for the designation of regional development authorities. Hill will also work to establish procedures for entering into contracts with regional development authorities to provide services to aid, promote, and encourage the economic development of this state.

“As a businessman, a former chairman of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and chairman of Service 1st Bank of Nevada, Steve has the knowledge and experience to  bring new business to Nevada while guiding the Economic Development Office,” Sandoval said. “I am pleased that Steve has agreed to lead the office as interim director and I look forward to working with him to revitalize Nevada’s economy.”

Janison will join the Office of Economic Development as a regional director starting Oct. 3.  Currently Sandoval’s director of community relations and a former Clark County School Board president, Janison will work with Hill and have responsibilities for outreach, business relationships and coordination with education and workforce development.

“Terri has done outstanding work in Southern Nevada bringing coalitions together and building our Southern Nevada office,” Sandoval said. “I thank her for her service to her fellow Nevadans and I wish her all the best as she begins her new job helping to diversify our economy.”

Sonia Joya, most recently the state director for former U.S. Senator John Ensign, begins her new position Oct. 3. A graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Joya was Southern Nevada director for then-Gov. Kenny Guinn in 1999. Joya has served in director capacities for elected officials in Nevada for over 15 years.

“I am thrilled that Sonia has agreed to return to state service,” Sandoval said. “Sonia’s experience in the day-to-day operations of the governor’s office as well as Nevada’s congressional offices gives her a unique perspective and skill set as she begins this job.”

Sandoval Displaying ‘Hands-On’ Approach As Governor In First Eight Months On The Job

By Sean Whaley | 2:20 pm September 16th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Brian Sandoval has made it clear in his first eight months on the job that he is going to be a “hands on” chief executive, as evidenced by decisions he has made to be personally involved on issues ranging from economic development to homeland security.

From personally making telephone calls to lure businesses to the state to deciding to serve as chairman of the Homeland Security Commission, Sandoval is not a governor who is stepping back to rely on staff or his cabinet to run the state.

“These are the times we’re in,” he said in an interview earlier this week. “And I am absolutely committed to spending all the time it takes to serve the people of the state of Nevada. And as I said it is a time to be engaged, to be working side-by-side with local governments and local elected officials.”

Gov. Brian Sandoval. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

Many previous governors have opted to have their representatives serve on various panels, but Sandoval has gone the other way, choosing as well to serve as chairman of the newly constituted Board of Economic Development which will work to bring businesses and jobs to Nevada.

Sandoval said job creation and economic development was a campaign issue and a focus of his State of the State address and so serving as chairman of the new economic development board makes sense.

The governor is required to serve on the state Board of Transportation, but at its last meeting, Sandoval voted with other members to greatly expand oversight by the panel of the agency, moving to monthly meetings instead of quarterly and opting for much greater review of its activities.

Sandoval is busy in the public realm as well, for example attending multiple events on the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. He has also made it a point to attend Nevada National Guard deployments and the return of the troops from overseas at every opportunity.

Sandoval said his approach to the governorship is the same he has used in his many other positions, from his two terms in the Assembly in the 1990s, to his time as Nevada Attorney General, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission and as a U.S. District judge in Reno.

Retired state archivist and Carson City resident Guy Rocha said he has not been following Sandoval’s every move as governor, but noted that his style may be hearkening back to the late Gov. Mike O’Callaghan, another chief executive who was intimately involved in the day-to-day running of state government.

The governors in-between, from Bob List to Jim Gibbons, exhibited varying levels of involvement, he said.

“I haven’t been tracking Brian; I’ve heard a few things, that on the Board of Examiners he’s asking good questions – involved, that type of thing” Rocha said. “So if that’s the direction he’s going, then the template for that is Mike O’Callaghan, arguably.”

Sandoval said there are specific reasons for the actions he has taken to be involved in various areas of state government.

The decision by the Transportation Board is in no way a suggestion of a lack of confidence in the agency staff, but a realization the department authorizes millions of dollars in contracts and that more oversight was appropriate, he said.

“The board agreed with me that if we’re going to be a part of the management of that department then certainly we should have a say and the opportunity to review the contracts that are being entered into on behalf of the state,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval said he has always had an interest in homeland security issues dating back to his time as attorney general, and that the opportunity to interact with the sheriffs of Washoe and Clark counties, as well as other emergency response officials, makes his participation on the commission worthwhile.

“I thought it was incumbent on me as the governor to personally serve as the chairman so that again I have a first-hand knowledge of what is happening with regard to our homeland security efforts in the state of Nevada,” he said.

Bob Fisher, president and CEO of the Nevada Broadcasters Association and a member of the commission, in August praised Sandoval’s decision to serve on the panel, calling it “the best thing to happen to homeland security in the state of Nevada.”

Not everyone agrees.

Former Nevada Department of Public Safety Director Jerry Hafen under Gov. Jim Gibbons, who served on the commission, in a Sept. 9 interview on the Face to Face television program, said Sandoval took bad advice by serving as chairman.

“I think it was a mistake,” he said. “As the director of public safety I was a member of that commission. The current director of public safety doesn’t sit on the commission, the governor does. That’s bizarre.”

-

Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says it is a time to be engaged on critical issues facing the state:

091611Sandoval1 :15 local government officials.”

Sandoval says the Transportation Board agreed it needed more review over the agency:

091611Sandoval2 :11 of the state.”

Sandoval says it is important for him to serve as chairman of the Homeland Security Commission:

091611Sandoval3 :12 state of Nevada.”

Former state archivist Guy Rocha says the late Gov. Mike O’Callahgan was one of the most hands on governors in modern Nevada history:

091611Rocha1 :19 modern Nevada history.”

Rocha says O’Callaghan is the template for a hand’s on governor:

091611Rocha2 :22 Mike O’Callaghan, arguably.”

 

 

Gov. Sandoval Names New Director Of State Department Of Employment, Training And Rehabilitation

By Sean Whaley | 2:25 pm September 13th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval has named Frank Woodbeck as director of the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation. Woodbeck will begin his new job Oct. 3

“Mr. Woodbeck is somebody that I came to know given his activities with economic development,” Sandoval said. “I believe that it is very important going forward that there be an alignment between DETR, the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, and economic development, and he has a unique skill set in that regard.”

Frank Woodbeck, newly appointed director of the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

Sandoval said the director of DETR will be serving as a non-voting member of the newly revised Board of Economic Development, of which he will be serving as chairman. The board, revised as a result of bipartisan support in the 2011 Legislature, will be focusing on Sandoval’s No. 1 priority of job creation.

“We have to be more efficient and smart with regard to our efforts moving forward,” Sandoval said. “I don’t want the soon-to-be newly constituted Economic Development Board to be working in a different direction than DETR. And so if we’re out there trying to expand job opportunities in the soon-to-be identified job sectors, certainly we should be focusing our training efforts at DETR in those very same areas.

“We need leaders working hard every day to bring new business to Nevada and get our fellow Nevadans back to work,” he said. “Frank’s background will provide an important voice in the discussion.”

Woodbeck said of his appointment:  “Creating jobs and preparing Nevadans to go back to work is the governor’s top priority. Within the next several weeks, research from SRI & Brookings Institute will give us ideas on six or seven industry sectors we should focus on for economic development and diversification in Nevada. This is part of the economic development restructuring called for in Assembly Bill 449. We will then be able to align the resources and work of DETR with the economic development goals, and move our state forward toward long-term economic diversification.”

Woodbeck is currently the director of Las Vegas Operations and Workforce Initiatives for the Nevada Commission on Economic Development, where he is responsible for economic development activity in coordination with the local development authorities in southern Nevada and for providing advice and guidance to create employment and training opportunities for new and emerging companies throughout the state. He was previously a strategic consultant on workforce initiatives for DETR.

As a former commissioner on the Nevada Commission on Economic Development, Woodbeck has been a regional general manager and consultant for Lakeshore Media LLC and a vice president with ABC Radio Networks.

A graduate of the University of Buffalo, Woodbeck is a member of the Nevada Education Foundation’s Ready for Life Committee on Youth, a board member on the Nevada Energy Assistance Corporation, and a member of the Nevada Broadband Taskforce.

Woodbeck takes over from former director Larry Mosley, who announced his resignation in June.

-

Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says Woodbeck has experience in economic development:

091311Sandoval1 :17 in that regard.”

Sandoval says DETR must work closely with the new Economic Development Board and Woodbeck has the right qualifications:

091311Sandoval2 :21 very same areas.”

Gov. Sandoval Making Strides On Top Priority Of Job Creation For Nevadans

By Sean Whaley | 3:29 pm September 8th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval said today he is making big strides in his top priority of improving the Nevada economy and growing jobs.

Sandoval said he has been making calls to businesses interested in relocating to the state and is getting ready to launch a newly revised economic development board to help the state turn the economic corner.

In an interview on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, Sandoval said a key element of implementing his jobs strategy is a study now under way by the Brookings Institution and the Stanford Research Institute, now known as SRI International, which will look at which economic development sectors the state should focus its efforts on. Two contracts, one for $40,000 with Robert Lang with Brookings, and the other for $200,000 with SRI, were approved by the Board of Examiners in June.

Gov. Brian Sandoval. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

The study, expected to be completed in late October, will review the different economic sectors the state is now involved in and identify “clusters” Nevada should turn its attention to in its diversification efforts, Sandoval said.

The state can’t take a “shotgun” approach to economic development, but instead must be more focused on those areas that can produce the desired result of economic diversification and job production, he said.

“Once we know what we can be the best at we can focus our economic developments in that regard,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval said he will also serve as chairman of the newly constituted Board of Economic Development, created as a result of the passage of Assembly Bill 449, which saw broad bipartisan support in the 2011 Legislature. The nine voting members of the board will include six private sector representatives. Sandoval said he will soon be announcing his three appointments to the panel.

The bill implementing the economic development reorganization, which was one of Sandoval’s priorities in his State of the State address, was sponsored by Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, and numerous other Democrat and Republican lawmakers.

The board will include three legislatively appointed private sector representatives, as well as Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki and Secretary of State Ross Miller or their designees. The board will also send the names of three finalists to Sandoval to pick a new executive director of the Office of Economic Development, who will serve as part of Sandoval’s cabinet.

Steve Redlinger, spokesman for Oceguera, said the lawmaker expects to make his appointment to the board within seven to 10 days.

“John sees the board as getting some great people serving the state who can get our economic engines revving,” he said. “His expectations and hopes are high. We face serious challenges.”

Nevada leads the nation in unemployment.

Sandoval said he does not believe politics will override the mission of the new panel.

“I think you are going to see, to answer your question, an unprecedented effort in terms of education, in job training, and the effort we make to recruit new business to the state of Nevada,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval said he has made numerous calls to businesses considering Nevada for expansion or relocation, and he cited one case where it has helped pay off. The expansion of Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters to Washoe County with the construction of a distribution center providing 650 new jobs, was one of those calls, he said.

“I hope that I helped push it over the finish line, but it is a team effort and I would never take credit for that because there are so many people out there in the field every day,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval said the message he takes to company CEOs is that Nevada is a business friendly state, and that there will be “service after the sale” meaning access to state elected and regulatory officials.

That message has really resonated with the business community, he said.

-

Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says Nevada has to take a focused approach to economic development:

090811Sandoval1 :13 in that regard.”

Sandoval says Nevadans will see an unprecedented effort to bring new businesses to the state:

090811Sandoval2 :11 state of Nevada.”

 

Freshman Lawmaker Thinks Twice, Guts Own Bill

By Andrew Doughman | 8:03 am March 10th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Lobbyists, legislators and journalists expected to hear about a bill that would increase energy bills for Nevadans when they arrived at a legislative hearing.

Assemblyman Randy Kirner, R-Reno, sat down before the committee, ready to present his bill that would levy a fee on anyone paying an electric bill. That fee would help new businesses pay their energy bills. He designed the bill to attract manufacturing businesses to Nevada with reduced energy costs.

But when he addressed the committee, he did so with Democratic lawmaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick of North Las Vegas, who was not listed as a sponsor.

Something was not right.

The two legislators then introduced a “conceptual amendment” to the bill that struck all provisions about ratepayers. Residents and businesses were off the hook. They did not mention any new fee in their amendment.

Kirner, a retired business executive, later said he had wanted to find an incentive to attract manufacturing businesses to Nevada. But when he received the language of his bill, he kept looking at the fee.

“I didn’t feel good about that because that puts on citizens a fee,” Kirner said. “I was never comfortable with that.”

So he tapped his Democratic colleague for her knowledge of energy-related policy.

The bill they concocted would give new manufacturing businesses a one-year property tax break of 35 percent in exchange for manufacturers retrofitting old buildings to LEED energy efficiency standards.

Ideally, the bill would provide short-term construction jobs, fill vacancies of old buildings and bring new manufacturing jobs to the state. The business would also benefit from reduced energy bills after completing the retrofits.

If this sounds nothing like assessing a fee on ratepayers to pay the energy bills of new manufacturing businesses, that is because it is not.

The amendment sweeps most sections of the original bill.

It retains a requirement that a new manufacturing business would have to employ at least 25 Nevadans in order to benefit from the tax break.

Since the committee heard nothing more than Kirner and Kirkpatrick’s testimony, the chairman of the Assembly Commerce and Labor Committee held the bill for further review.

Recession Leading To Exodus Of University Faculty

By Andrew Doughman | 10:14 am February 23rd, 2011

Professor Michael Young began to think last year that he should look for a job outside of Nevada.

It was not the craziest thought; the recession was in full swing and legislators were slashing the higher education budget.

Young was a departmental director at the Desert Research Institute. Now he’s an associate director at the University of Texas, Austin.

During the recession, Nevada has had a difficult time keeping research professors like Young.

The best students already seem to be leaving for out-of-state colleges. The same thing seems to be happening with faculty.

“It turns out, ironically, that the state of Texas has big economic problems as well,” Young said in a phone interview. “But there’s a very fundamentally different level of understanding in terms of what the university does for the economy and for the future of the state [in Texas]. You don’t really hear that a lot in Nevada.”

What you do hear is the president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas telling faculty that the university may go bankrupt. You hear Gov. Brian Sandoval proposing a $163 million cut to the state’s universities and colleges.

At the same time, Nevada’s public figures have championed economic diversification through hiring innovative faculty, providing start-up funds and building a research engine. These professors will presumably leverage millions in federal grants and build Reno or Las Vegas into high-tech research hubs where start-ups will provide manufacturing jobs.

It sounds great. One day we will talk of Silicon Valley, Seattle and Reno as the tech hubs of the West.

But then reality sets in.

“It’s hard to imagine a young faculty member … why would that person go to a university where 30 percent of its budget is being cut?” Young asked. “It’s not an incentive that a lot of young people would take.”

Young said he left Nevada for various reasons, among them the state’s fiscal woes.

Steven Wells, president of the DRI, said that the institution has lost 21 faculty since 2008.

“We’ve had people who have been here five to ten years suddenly leaving and our investment in them goes with them,” he said. “Michael Young is a prime example. I tried to do whatever I could to keep him.”

Wells said that researchers like Young aren’t tenured. They support themselves through grants they receive largely from the federal government.

But the DRI’s administrative costs do come from the state. The state must also attract graduate students to work under researchers like Young.

“These researchers within these institutes have to believe that there’s a future here and that the state is interested in bolstering the fledgling research infrastructure that we have,” said Jim Croce, director at the Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization.

Data provided by the Nevada System of Higher Education showed that Young had brought about $3 million into Nevada via grants during the past two years. He’s just one of many professors at the DRI, UNLV and the University of Nevada, Reno who collectively brought in millions of dollars to the state and have since left.

Where’s the money?

The recession has left the state’s coffers running dry, the federal stimulus is running out and “new spending” are dirty words at the Legislature.

A Senate committee on economic development heard testimony this week from Croce, who talked about expanding his organization’s link between university research and the renewable energy sector.

Senators immediately wanted to know the cost.

“Does that mean investing general funds into the system so that they have the capacity in their budget to go out and recruit their researchers?” asked Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno.

Croce replied that yes, Nevada would be “literally buying” faculty to come to Nevada.

Sen. Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, followed by asking what the state would need to do.

“At a minimum we have to stop the bleeding and make sure we have a healthy NSHE base,” he said.

Higher ed needs “drastic reform”

Others argue that the higher education system already has enough money.

“You’re really good at coming and asking for money,” said Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, to Dan Klaich, NSHE chancellor, at a higher education hearing this week. “But what we need now is help and places where we can make reform. Drastic reform.”

Her comments echo those of the governor’s senior adviser, Dale Erquiaga.

“You’ve got to have money to spend money,” he said during a January press conference.

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki said that the universities can help with economic development, even as their budgets shrink.

“It can be done today,” he said. “It’s about directing resources.”

He said that universities can help faculty gear their research toward commercialization.

Nonetheless, those same faculty have been and still are leaving.

“It’s not like you flip a light switch and you get your research back,” Young said. “To me that’s probably one of the saddest parts of the story. …When the economy is doing well, the state is going to continue to suffer through this because the research infrastructure is gone.”

Business Leaders Say Low Taxes Not Enough

By Andrew Doughman | 5:47 pm February 14th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Business leaders from several large technology companies said today that Nevada lacks the skilled workforce necessary for them to locate in Nevada over the long-term.

When asked whether they favored low taxes or a solid educational system when choosing where to locate their business, a executive from General Electric said both are equally important.

The remarks contradict what Gov. Brian Sandoval, who was also at the meeting with business leaders, said earlier. Sandoval had said that the state’s education system rarely comes up in conversations with business executives.

“Most of the skills we’re looking for we’ve had to bring outside of the state,” said Kevin Doyle of Capgemini, a French-based, information-technology company with business interests in Nevada. “However, frankly, in order to start our business here we need to bring some folks so we know it’s not sustainable long term. Having technology skills is absolutely paramount.”

The businesses said what has been aired in the public sphere before: the lack of educational attainment hurts the state. Legislators said, however, that the meeting was helpful.

“Well, what it helps to do is reinforce that there is commitment on behalf of companies to come and locate to Nevada,” said Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas. “They want a trained and educated workforce. They need people with the skills to perform certain functions.”

The elected officials gathered at the meeting stressed a renewed bipartisanship as a good sign that they’ll make progress with economic development this legislative session.

The Valentine’s Day meeting brought both political parties to the table.

Horsford and Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, convened the roundtable meeting with business representatives, legislative leadership from both parties and the governor and his staff.

“I challenge any state to bring in a lieutenant governor, a governor, a majority leader, a speaker, the chairmen of the various commissions, the heads of both parties here all in one place to talk about these issues,” Sandoval said. “I think it reinforces some of the things that we all understand, that we have a great business environment in this state.”

Republicans and Democrats seem to be flirting with bipartisanship, but they haven’t yet taken up electoral redistricting or the possibility of tax increases.

For now, however, the consensus among legislators of both parties is that the community colleges should be partnering with businesses. Businesses would ask that students learn certain skills and the colleges would then tailor certification courses to the needs of businesses.

Dan Klaich, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education that oversees universities and community colleges, said that this is what community colleges already do.

“The community colleges are the most nimble of the institutions in the system,” he said. “They have programs that they regularly tailor to the needs of a particular business.”

He said the governor’s proposed budget cuts, which total about $162 million during the next biennium, could curtail the ability of the community colleges to create new programs for high-tech industries.

The question of funding for education came up again during a Senate committee hearing. Devin Whitney, a government representative from the membership organization Tech-America, had attended the meeting with the governor and legislative leadership, but stressed his points on the record at the hearing.

He praised Nevada’s low taxes, but said they weren’t enough to attract the businesses he represents.

“What is still lacking is the skilled workforce,” he said. “That requires the appropriate investment in the education system to make sure they are churning out graduates.”

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, asked Whitney to further describe how certification programs at community colleges would work.

Whitney replied that, in some cases, the programs are simple.

“You do the training, you take the course, you pass a test at the end and you are ready to work,” he said.

Whitney brought up information technology centers as an example. Companies may be drawn to Nevada’s low taxes, but they need educated people to staff such a center.

“If they can’t get the people to manage that center, then they’re going to have to import them from out of state even with the good regulatory and tax environment,” he said.

Senate and Assembly education committees will take up the issue of higher education this Wednesday. The Senate committee on economic development before which Whitney testified also has a day scheduled exclusively for debate about high-tech industry.

Gov. Sandoval Proposes Economic Plan To Encourage Private Sector Job Growth

By Sean Whaley | 6:01 pm January 24th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval today said he will embark on a multifaceted approach to rebuilding Nevada’s economy by assisting in private-sector job growth, including the creation of a $10 million “Catalyst Fund” to provide one-time incentives to businesses that want to relocate to the state.

Sandoval, who delivered his first State of the State address to a packed Assembly chambers, also wants to double the amount of state general funds invested in the Nevada Commission on Economic Development at a cost of $2.3 million a year.

Economic development was one of the main themes of his address, along with balancing the state budget and education reforms. He received praise for his economic development proposals.

Noting that he developed his plan in cooperation with Assembly Speaker-elect John Oceguera and Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, both Democrats, Sandoval said: “I propose a complete overhaul of our state’s economic development program.”

“We propose to redesign the Commission on Economic Development and recommend a 50 percent increase in general fund dollars to run it,” Sandoval said. “A new entity, Nevada Jobs Unlimited, will be a public private partnership existing largely outside state government.

“With a private sector mentality, it will be more nimble,” he said. “And it will be a cabinet-level agency, with the governor joining the lieutenant governor, Senate majority leader, Assembly speaker, and representatives of higher education and other critical stakeholders on the board.”

The new entity will pursue strategies that grow jobs within existing Nevada businesses, as well as recruit companies from out-of-state, Sandoval said.

In the Democrat response, Oceguera said there is bipartisan support for job creation efforts, but that, “we cannot expect businesses to invest in Nevada if we aren’t willing to invest as well.”

Democratic proposals include using public construction money to repair and build an infrastructure for the 21st century and partnering Nevada’s higher education system with emerging technology companies as Arizona and Utah have done.

Oceguera also advocated seeking federal support for a new Interstate 11 connecting Phoenix and Las Vegas, and federal loans to private companies for high speed rail to Southern California.

Sandoval expressed support for both of these transportation projects in his speech.

“A key part of attracting business is to recognize our weaknesses and fix them now,” Oceguera said. “Our ability to grow new jobs paying a decent wage depends on an educated workforce.”

Tray Abney, representing the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce, said he liked both Sandoval’s education reform proposals and his focus on economic diversification.

“Education and economic development are intrinsically linked,” he said. “We need an educated skilled workforce in order to provide the jobs that are coming in this future economy.”

Former Democrat Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins said Sandoval, “had an impossible speech to give” given the economic times.

“If he stays within the constraints of the projections of the Economic Forum, it is really trying to shove 10 pounds in a 5 pound box,” he said. “It is a very, very difficult thing to do.”

Perkins said Sandoval’s economic development plans are “spot on”, but suggested that some of his education reforms may not survive the Legislative process where Democrats are in control.

Another component of Sandoval’s economic development plan is a $10 million “Silver State Works” employment initiative aimed at veterans, unemployment benefit recipients, public assistance recipients and ex-offenders.

A primary goal is to promote a “Work First” culture through employer hiring incentives, on-the-job training and community service. The program is projected to help 10,000 unemployed workers using existing staff resources.

True to his word, Sandoval has proposed a $5.8 billion general fund budget for the next two years that does not raise taxes or fees. Along with the $5.3 billion in projected tax revenue estimated by the Nevada Economic Forum, Sandoval is proposing just over $500 million in additional “revenue reallocations” including $221 million in room taxes that had been proposed to go to teacher salaries but instead would remain in the general fund budget for the next two years.

His plan would also reallocate nine cents of the property tax from Clark and Washoe counties to fund the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the University of Nevada, Reno. This transfer would save the state general fund about $121 million.

A final component would transfer $425 million in school district bond repayment reserves to operating expenses for the districts to cover projected shortfalls in sales and property tax revenues, in effect another savings to the general fund.

“When all was said and done, the proposed general fund expenditures in my budget total just over $5.8 billion over the next two years – within 1 percent of general fund spending in 2007,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval has said repeatedly that fostering job creation and growth, not raising taxes on businesses or families, is what is needed to get the state out of the current fiscal crisis.

Sandoval noted in his speech that Nevada’s unemployment rate grew again in December, hitting 14.5 percent.

“In order for Nevada to fully recover, we must focus our energy on job creation,” he said.

To that end, Sandoval is proposing the Catalyst Fund, which will provide incentives to “close deals, finance infrastructure and spur the growth of new jobs.”

“Our future likes in business sectors like technology commercialization, bioscience, renewable energy asset development and defense sector expansion,” he said.

Sandoval cited the company Switch, which developed a two-million-square-foot technology ecosystem campus in Las Vegas, as an example of Nevada’s economic future. The company builds large, secure technology data centers with a telecommunications hub.

“Switch’s vision and innovation are attracting many Fortune 1000 companies to Las Vegas, and they are bringing jobs to Nevada,” he said.

Following the address, Switch founder Rob Roy, who attended Sandoval’s address, said it is time for Nevada to “take a step, really, onto the stage with the rest of America in terms of economic development.”

“We have absolutely put the right man into office to take those things now and really go forward and do some serious economic changes for Nevada,” he said. “We’ve got to move our economy away from just what we’re used to in the past.”

Sandoval’s budget also includes $3 million to help residents of rural Nevada use broadband access to start and grow businesses and telecommute.

Audio clips:

Sandoval says he is proposing a new economic development entity to help create jobs:

012411Sandoval1 :13 be more nimble.”

Sandoval says the entity will grow jobs in existing businesses as well as recruit businesses from out-of-state:

012411Sandoval2 :14 coordination and accountability.”

Sandoval says Nevada needs to attract new business sectors to Nevada:

012411Sandoval3 :11 defense sector expansion.”

Roy says it is time for Nevada to push ahead on economic development:

012411Roy1 :06 of economic development.”

Roy says Sandoval is the right man for the job:

012411Roy2 :10 changes for Nevada.”

Roy says Nevada has to move its economy away from the status quo:

012411Roy3 :07 it’s very exciting.”

Abney says economic development and a quality education system are linked:

012411Abney :11 this future economy.”

Perkins says Sandoval has a tough job trying to live within available revenues:

012411Perkins1 :18 thing to do.”

Perkins says Sandoval’s economic development proposals are on target:

012411Perkins2 :03 are spot on.”