Las Vegas Sun

October 15, 2018

Currently: 62° — Complete forecast

Q+A: NLV city manager on impact of Apex, reshaping downtown

Image

Steve Marcus

North Las Vegas City Manager Ryann Juden listens as North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee delivers the State of the City address at Texas Station in North Las Vegas Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018.

Ryann Juden has a vision for North Las Vegas — a thriving economy, a diverse downtown, new jobs and much more.

But Juden, the North Las Vegas city manager for the past six months, says it’s not a one-person task. He raves about others who work in the city and can’t hide his enthusiasm for the work in front of them.

The results, he says, are encouraging.

For instance, North Las Vegas has gone from being strapped by the recession about eight years ago to having its credit rating boosted in Standard & Poor’s annual review. The independent analysis of city finances resulted in a two-spot increase in its credit rating, which could lead to it collecting millions in annual investments and tax cuts.

“There’s a lot more to the success of North Las Vegas when you really start to look into it, and it’s exciting. It’s exciting to be a part of it,” he said.

Juden shared his vision with the Sun. The interview has been edited for clarity.

How has the city staff adjusted to the change in power?

Yes, we had some issues in North Las Vegas, they’re all gone. We have an incredible team — it’s exciting actually to see what they’ve been able to accomplish and to be able to work with them to accomplish new things. It’s not as rough as people think because I’ve been there for five years ... I don’t think there’s much to get used to — I’m not a new face.

Electric car maker Faraday Future once had plans to invest more than $1 billion in a 3.4 million-square-foot manufacturing plant at Apex Industrial Park, but it ran into financial troubles and pulled out of the project earlier this year. What impact did Faraday have on North Las Vegas?

Faraday is misunderstood by a lot of people. For our purposes and the city of North Las Vegas, Faraday was nothing more than a catalyst to bring utilities out to Apex. What Faraday did for North Las Vegas was by buying land at the furthest northern end of Apex ... then all the utilities would have to be pulled up to them, which would open thousands of acres of land to the east and west of that utility corridor.

What progress is happening with business development at Apex?

Apex has been a challenge that no one’s been able to figure out for almost two decades. We’ve talked about it being a chicken and an egg. You want businesses to go out there, but they want utilities. And utilities don’t want to go out there unless you have businesses.

Since I came in as city manager, we’ve looked at it through a magnifying glass and looked at the challenges we’ve had [like] having a bunch of starts and stops with bringing infrastructure out there. The two-phase approach we adopted in January is taking a look at Apex as a northern and southern section, and looking at the best ways to quickly bring utilities to those two areas. You would think you’d need to bring water from the south to get to the north, but in reality, there are groundwater options. So you could have water in the north by drilling wells.

There are grand plans to remake downtown. How is the development manifesting?

Some people are even surprised to know there’s a downtown in North Las Vegas. There are several things we’ve done there. We have a few things that are anchoring downtown, for example, we have a hospital ... and that was one of the first things we identified in the first few months of coming into the city, that the hospital needed room to expand. We are also expanding for a library in the downtown area and it’s going to be a really unique library. It’s going to provide a focus on what a library typically focuses on, but also focus on workforce and job creation. Downtown is exciting because one thing we’ve worked on in North Las Vegas is embracing who we are.

How is the city expanding the tax base and attracting new job opportunities?

That’s really a challenge that governments face everywhere, and one that thing that’s been professionally rewarding about working in North Las Vegas is that now there are people who are replicating or attempting to replicate what we’ve done. We’ve had cities throughout the country that have contacted us and think tanks and college professors ... in fact, we have a city from Mexico coming to meet with us to identify how we were able to turn the corner. Aside from things that they can’t replicate like we have a tremendous staff and a visionary mayor and council, we were able to go out and attract businesses to come and develop in North Las Vegas ... We didn’t just wait for them to call us. We put together a team that was capable and experienced with going out and bringing businesses in. To me, that’s exciting that we’re becoming a model of good governance.

What else should people know about you?

I think there is a lot that people don’t know. For example, I’m fluent in Spanish. I lived in South America and served a full-time mission for my church for two years. That language ability and cultural understanding helps me connect with large groups of our population in North Las Vegas.