Posts Tagged ‘Steve Hill’

Nevada Economic Board Signs Off On Apple Tax Breaks But Finds Oversight Authority Limited Under New Law

By Sean Whaley | 4:58 pm August 1st, 2012

CARSON CITY – The state Board of Economic Development today unanimously signed off on a package of tax breaks to bring Apple to Reno, but the panel found it had little authority over the deal reached after several months of closed-door negotiations.

The board, chaired by Gov. Brian Sandoval, unanimously recommended that Steve Hill, executive director of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, enter into the contract with Apple that will provide an estimated $89 million in tax breaks to the company over the next decade.

Hill, in briefing the board on the agreement with Apple to build a data center and related facilities in the Reno area that are expected to bring $1 billion in investment over the next ten years, said the state authority over the deal was limited once it was approved by the Washoe County Commission and other local government entities.

Hill said the value of the sales and personal property tax breaks has to be put into context, which is that the state will receive between $16 million to $20 million in taxes over 10 years that would not have come to Nevada without Apple’s decision to open the facility in Reno, along with more than 300 well-paying jobs.

The tax breaks can be withheld if the company does not make the minimum required investment, he said.

Sandoval said that despite the limited authority to weigh in on the deal, the review by the board was important because a lot of important questions were raised and answered in the public forum.

He said the agreement is a great deal for Nevada because it is bringing a major company to the state that could have decided to go elsewhere.

“It’s going to provide new jobs and investment into the community,” Sandoval said. “It is perhaps, and I’m hoping that as we go on, will be a catalyst for other companies to come here.”

Apple is expected to start construction as soon as the contract spelling out the agreement is finalized later this month, he said.

“There is no reason to believe that they won’t fulfill all of the promises that they have made both to the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, to Washoe County, to the City of Reno and the Washoe County School District,” Sandoval said. “I think this is a win all the way around and I for one am very excited and proud to be a part of this first recommendation by the board to put to the executive director to move forward on this project.”

If there is a need to clarify some aspects of the approval process that resulted in the deal, any proposed changes can be taken up with the Legislature when it convenes in 2013, he said.

Board members, including representatives of the private sector, asked many questions during a two-hour review. There was no comment from the public.

Member Ross Miller, who is also the Nevada Secretary of State, asked Hill if there was the opportunity to make changes to the agreement in some areas, such as seeking some assurances that the construction aspect of the project will employ Nevada residents.

Hill said no such changes could be made without starting the negotiation process all over again.

After the meeting, Miller said the new process, created as a result of legislation last year establishing the new economic development office, is a major departure from past practice.

“The role of the board in approving these abatements is very limited,” he said. “And that’s a significant change from the previous process where the commission actually voted and approved these abatements. Our limited role today was to essentially determine whether or not they met procedural requirements.”

Those requirements included whether the company had a Nevada business license and whether they were going to make more than $500,000 in capital investment, Miller said.

“Our role at this point appears to be primarily ceremonial,” he said. “We provide advice and input but don’t have any real substantive oversight over the process.”

The Legislature in 2013 should consider expanding the board’s oversight, Miller said. The board did not have an actual contract to review, only a set of bullet points.

“Make no mistake, these are substantial abatements for a 30-year period,” he said. “And that’s not insignificant. And so we want to make sure that these terms are clearly defined and that the public has a very clear understanding of what we’ve committed ourselves to.”


Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says Apple’s move to Reno could be a catalyst for other companies to relocate:

080112Sandoval1 :11 to come here.”

Sandoval says Apple will live up to its commitments:

080112Sandoval2 :28 on this project.”

Board member Ross Miller says the role of the new board is limited:

080112Miller1 :18 met procedural requirements.”

Miller says the board does not have any substantive oversight:

080112Miller2 :11 over the process.”

Miller says the public has to have a clear understanding of such agreements:

080112Miller3 :13 committed ourselves to.”



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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.”


Business Leaders Want Clear And Practical State Plan For Economic Diversification

By Sean Whaley | 3:38 pm December 8th, 2011

CARSON CITY – A member of the panel charged with helping diversify Nevada’s economy and create jobs said today he wants to make sure the state plan developed to achieve these goals is a practical working document.

“I hope we have concrete definitions that go beyond buzzwords,” said Sam Routson, a member of the state Board of Economic Development.

The plan needs to be a working tool that the public can easily understand, he said. Routson is the chief administrative officer for the agricultural company Winnemucca Farms.

State Economic Development official Steve Hill, right, Gov. Brian Sandoval, and other state officials hear about the Brookings report in November. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

Routson’s comments were in response to a report prepared by the Brookings Institution and SRI International that was delivered to the panel in early November. The report, intended to help the state with its economic diversification efforts, 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 report has come in for some criticism for failing to offer clear definitions of the economic sectors the state should be focusing on to diversify the state economy.

Ray Bacon, executive director of the Nevada Manufacturers Association who testified in the public comment section of the meeting of the panel, which includes Gov. Brian Sandoval and several private sector appointees, said he would have sent the report back because of a lack of clear definitions.

The report discusses advanced manufacturing, which used to be called high tech, but it lacks specifics, Bacon said. Other sectors, such as clean energy, are not defined either, he said.

“We can’t get there until we know what the definitions are,” Bacon said.

Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office on Economic Development, said the intent is to produce a state plan that is a working document and one that is “direct and to the point.”

The plan is being developed now and is expected to be released in January.

Board member Kathleen Drakulich asked Hill if the Brookings/SRI report provided enough detail to prepare the state’s plan.

Hill said the report has provided a great deal of depth, but that the state’s plan won’t be prepared based solely on the information. Hill said he is reaching out across the state to get comment for the plan.

Because it is being generated so quickly, Hill said the first draft of the plan will not be a complete answer to Nevada’s economic diversification efforts. As the board and state officials learn more about what works, the plan will be updated to reflect that knowledge, he said.

After the meeting, Sandoval said the criticisms are welcome.

“Now Mr. Hill, who is writing that plan as we speak, has heard some of the concerns of folks with regard to the Brookings report,” Sandoval said. “That report was never supposed to be the end-all, be-all with regard to economic development in the state of Nevada. It was going to identify our strengths, our weaknesses, which clusters we should be focusing on and essentially provide the foundation for our state economic development plan. And I think it accomplished just that.”

The state’s plan of action will be a business plan with the measurements needed to ensure accountability, he said.


Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says criticisms of the Brookings report will help produce an effective state plan for economic diversification:

120811Sandoval1 :18 the state plan.”

Sandoval says the Brookings report is just one tool to help develop the state plan:

120811Sandoval2 :24 accomplished just that.”


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.


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.”

Conservative Infighting Alive and Well, Keystone Goes After Chamber Executive Board

By Elizabeth Crum | 10:10 am May 3rd, 2011

A morning missive put out by the conservative Keystone Corporation advises its own members, along with Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce members, to contact the Chamber’s executive committee to complain about their recent support for extending the payroll tax rather than allowing it to sunset. Here’s a snippet:

The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce wants to increase taxes on Nevada job creators

The Las Vegas Chamber is leading the fight to extend the 100% increase of payroll tax (Modified Business Tax) they championed last session set to sunset this year. Make no mistake this is a tax on Nevada job creators that will prevent businesses from creating new jobs and stimulating our economy.

Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce Members, contact your leadership now and respectfully tell them you will not stand for another tax increase on the backs of Nevada businesses.

The release then lists phone numbers and email addresses for all members of the executive committee, including Steve Hill, Hugh Anderson and John McManus of MGM.



The Anointing Begins: Adelson Headlines First Heller Fundraiser

By Elizabeth Crum | 7:58 am March 15th, 2011

A few minutes after Rep. Heller announced his U.S. Senate run this morning, an invitation to a March 28 fundraiser at Panevino went out to major donors.

Host donation is $5,000, attendees are $1,000 per person or $1,500 per couple.

Sheldon Adelson’s name is headlining along with:

– Steve Hill (Las Vegas Chamber)

– Dema Guinn (former First Lady)

– Bob List (former governor, RNC committeeman)

– Scott Nielson (Station Casinos)

– Anthony Marnell (the M Resort)

Many others…