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Sandoval vows new economic development plan, wants 50,000 new jobs

Updated Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012 | 5:14 p.m.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, unveiling the state’s new economic development plan, challenged the state’s businesses on Tuesday to create 50,000 new jobs by the end of 2014.

The plan is a blueprint for remaking the state’s economic development efforts, hinged on regional development authorities and a statewide economic development director who will report to the governor and have new powers to authorize grants.

State “industry specialists” will work with specific business sectors to increase exports and help connect higher education research and development efforts to business needs.

Sandoval said the plan will reorganize and better focus the state’s economic development efforts.

“This is going to be remembered as a historic day,” he said during a presentation at UNR. “We’re all going to push forward together.”

Nevada, with 166,000 unemployed looking for work, leads the nation with a 12.6 unemployment rate. Sandoval said the new plan, the result of bipartisan Legislation passed in 2011, differs from other states’ because it details tactics to diversify the state’s economy and creates benchmarks to hold the agency accountable.

This includes hiring regional “sector specialists” to attract, expand and retain businesses.

Economic development efforts will be reorganized, with regional development authorities applying for funding.

The regional groups will report to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, led by Steve Hill, a former construction company owner and active member in the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce.

The fate of the state’s existing economic development agencies is unclear. Somer Hollingsworth, president of the Nevada Development Authority, which covers Southern Nevada, was not available for comment on Tuesday and not at the presentation on Tuesday.

Hill said the existing economic development agencies will be asked to do more than they have.

The state’s finalized plan was based on a 178-page report prepared by researchers with the Brookings Institution and SRI International. That plan identified seven areas for the state to focus on, based on the state’s strengths. That included a renewed focus on gaming technology and innovation, developing the private aerospace and defense industries, and renewable energy.

The law that created this new structure came with a $10 million “catalyst fund” to help recruit businesses to Nevada and expand businesses. It also created a “knowledge fund” which, Hill noted, was not funded. He said the group is looking for private donations and money from other sources.

Hill acknowledged to the crowd of higher education and business leaders that there have been past efforts in Nevada at economic development but said it didn’t get the focused attention it needed.

“We have not had to focus on economic development in the past because we were doing well,” he said. “It kind of happened on its own.”

He said relocating businesses from out of state is just 5 to 7 percent of job creation.

“We will be helping existing businesses grow and new businesses start up,” he said.

Hill and Sandoval said economic development will work closely with higher education and K-12 education to produce a trained workforce.

Sandoval has made economic development one of the main focuses of his first year in office. But his budget has been attacked by Democrats, faculty and labor unions because of cuts to education funding he proposed in 2011.

On Tuesday, the libertarian think tank Nevada Policy Research Institute criticized his new plan for interfering with the free market.

The plan calls for seven state “industry specialists” in different economic sectors.

“It’s a statement of abandoning a belief in free market enterprise,” said Geoffrey Lawrence, deputy policy director for NPRI.

He said new industries will be looking for subsidies to get off the ground instead of consumer demands.

“Investments will be subject to political factors,” he said. “It's going to become highly politicized.”

He said the state economy is starting to recover, something the report starts out by acknowledging.

“This is a big disappointment,” he said. “I think it’s a crony capitalist scheme.”

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  1. Wait a minute...

    I thought all we had to do was become more 'business friendly', and offer 'incentives' (corp. welfare) to create the job utopia of Nevada's dreams?

    Where ARE the JOBS, Governor???

  2. It is interesting, isn't it, gmag?

    Virginia governor Bob McDonnell claimed that the economy is getting better, "because of what Republican governors are doing in their states."

    Given Nevada's dismal economy and horrendous unemployment, isn't that an indictment of Brian Sandoval's failure?

  3. Not a bad stunt. For, the governor knows we're going to start gaining jobs due to an improving economy. As things improve, he'll simply claim it was HIS plan that paid off. And, if things don't go well, he'll use his old standby - blame everyone else (especially the feds).

  4. "Sandoval vows new economic development plan" - meaning he plans to give us the plans sometime in the future. A Vow? That and 55 cents will get you a senior coffee. Take the coffee, that's a guarantee, not a vow.

  5. "It shows how partisan my lib friends are... If Obama has a jobs plan he is a genius but if the Gov has a jobs plan he is a failure."

    And when a Dem has a jobs plan, the GOP says government can't create jobs, so right back atcha!

  6. Wow, Gibbons is back. Cut spending to the bone for education and then expect business to come to Nevada. What a sack of hogwash.

  7. Where are the DETAILS to this "new economic development plan"? Honestly, it is NO plan when it lacks the details of how this plan will work. The master crafter/artist Governor has yet rendered a "sketch" and expects everyone else to fill in the lines with color and details.

    I'm with improveLV on the evaluation of the presentation:

    "Wondering if the people posting actually read through his plan:

    I personally think the "business friendly climate" claim is a joke. We're not business friendly. We don't have skilled labor. We don't have an educated populace. We don't have an attractive community that can lure outside talent. Yes, there are exceptions, but overall, I think that's the situation. I like that he acknowledges the problem with the education system, but like most other politicians, I think he's going to pitch this plan and fail to follow through and make it work.

    He's just another ambitious politician that wants to say the right thing at the right time. Almost all of them (BOTH PARTIES) are guilty of doing the same."

    Of course, all works of art are subject to "interpretation." Maybe we should be taking a walk through the Governor's Gallery of 'completed works' to determine the value of any/all of it!

    Blessings and Peace,