Las Vegas Sun

October 22, 2014

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Where I Stand — Guest Column:

State showing positive signs for business growth

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In August, Brian Greenspun turns over his Where I Stand column to guest writers. Today’s columnist is Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Nevada is six months into our Plan for Excellence in Economic Development and my challenge to the business community to create 50,000 jobs by 2014. Progress is being made to get Nevadans back to work. Our strategy is straightforward and purposeful: bring new businesses to the state, help current companies grow and prosper, and support entrepreneurs.

Nevada has growth opportunities in aerospace and defense, health care, manufacturing and information technology, in addition to our historical leadership in gaming and hospitality, mining, agriculture and logistics. Our first priority to seize these opportunities was a restructuring of our economic development system to better tell Nevada’s business story and to capitalize on Nevada’s assets in these sectors.

The passage of Assembly Bill 449 created a Board of Economic Development, in which highly accomplished private-sector leaders in Nevada collaborate with elected officials, the chancellor of higher education and the director of the state’s workforce development programs to guide our economic development efforts.

The director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Steve Hill, was appointed last fall and has worked to align regional economic development while bringing higher levels of cooperation and accountability through newly created Regional Development Authorities.

With the board taking full responsibility for the state’s economic development July 1, and the RDAs in place, the restructuring is complete.

Simultaneously, we have been working to grow our targeted sectors, expand our global reach, increase innovation, and train and educate our workforce for tomorrow’s jobs.

In Northern Nevada, Apple and NJVC announced plans to create new data centers that will mean more than $10 billion in long-term capital investments and more than 200 new jobs. In Southern Nevada, our pursuit of designation as a test site for unmanned aerial vehicles by the Federal Aviation Administration is under way. The combination of Nevada’s big air space for testing, direct experience with UAVs, and our research-and-development expertise, makes a compelling case for this important new industry.

Helping our largest industry grow and diversify is a priority as well. This year I called on the Gaming Policy Committee to ensure Nevada stays at the forefront of online gaming. Maintaining our place as the industry gold standard will require us to be leaders in the development and management of gaming technology, and in cybersecurity and other advanced information technologies. Make no mistake: Nevada will preserve its leadership role in the gaming industry.

In September, I will lead a trade mission to China and South Korea — the first governor-led trade mission in nearly three decades. This mission will open opportunities for Nevada companies to export their products and services to growing markets and will highlight opportunities for Chinese and South Korean investors in Nevada.

The trade mission follows the first-ever Consul General Luncheon, held at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in May. At our meeting, 38 countries were represented and several Nevada business leads were identified. Exports and foreign direct investment lead to growth for Nevada companies and good paying jobs for our citizens.

Nevada is a great place to do business, but we must continue to improve our business climate.

First, a prepared workforce is the lifeblood of any economy. It is imperative that Nevadans have the education and skills necessary to fill high-quality jobs and that we align education training with the needs of business in our state. We have taken several steps to do so.

The Department of Training and Rehabilitation, partnering with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, has developed sector councils which connect businesses and educators in health care, IT and hospitality to match needs with training.

We are transforming workforce development to ensure that the highest possible percentage of training dollars goes to training our citizens.

We are partnering with community colleges and private providers to expand certificate programs — programs that get people back to work in good jobs.

And, we continue to focus on improving K-12 education.

Second, we continue to transform Nevada into an appealing state for doing business. In 2011, my cabinet identified more than 600 regulations for elimination and over 1,000 for reform. In June, I asked GOED to work with business groups to identify major obstacles to job creation. The information we have received will be invaluable as we continue regulatory reform.

I am pleased with the results we are seeing. Nevada has added more than 25,000 jobs since I took office. Interest in companies expanding into Nevada is the highest it has been in several years.

Several online gaming companies have recently announced moves into Nevada, and Las Vegas is receiving notice as an emerging technology hub.

Now, though, is not the time to be satisfied. There remains much to do and we are just getting started. We will do whatever it takes to get Nevada working again

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