When Tom Skancke was approached by an alliance of business and community leaders nearly two years ago, he wasn’t looking for a new job.
He owned a successful public affairs company that focused on transportation, telecommunications and health care issues in the public arena.
In true Las Vegas style, the alliance made him an offer he found hard to refuse: the opportunity to lead an initiative that would reorganize economic development in Southern Nevada.
“I sold my company, (Nov. 1, 2012) and took a substantial pay cut,” said Skancke, 51, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, 6795 Edmond St., Suite 260. “I went from being the boss to having 35 bosses (a board of directors).”
The Nevada Development Authority was renamed the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance in 2013 and was re-envisioned as a public and private partnership, 501(c)6 with nearly 300 investor members.
The new name reflected its mission of developing the economies of Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas, Clark County, Boulder City and Mesquite in the global arena.
The economic development group worked with 36 companies between July 1, 2013, and June 30 to help them relocate to or expand in Southern Nevada and establish 3,412 jobs in Clark County, according to a July 24 report released by the alliance.
The companies are expected to invest $209 million in new capital in the Southern Nevada region and provide a one-year economic impact of $578 million.
“California Republic Bank Auto Finance Division had a very positive experience in opening a customer service center in Las Vegas,” co-president David Prescher said in an email.
The company has 76 employees who earn an average wage of $19.90 per hour.
The Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance “assisted us through the entire process, and we are very pleased to be part of the local Las Vegas business community,” Prescher said.
The state of Nevada, through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, is responsible for issuing sales tax abatements on capital equipment purchases; sales and use tax deferral on capital equipment purchases; abatements on personal and modified business taxes; real property tax abatements for recycling; assistance with the cost of intellectual property development; and employee training grants to qualified companies interested in doing business in Nevada, according to the state-maintained diversifynevada.com.
The Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance acts as the prospective businesses’ representative before the governor’s economic development board to streamline the tax incentive request process, said Andrew Doughman, the alliance’s director of communications.
“According to our economic development teams’ data log for inquiries, 47 of the 147 inquiries we fielded between July 1, 2013, and May 20, 2014, originated in California,” said Doughman. “Thirty-six of those originated in Nevada (which includes expansion projects by local companies).”
The alliance is the designated grantee for the Clark County Foreign Trade Zone, a program enacted by Congress in 1934 that allows for goods to be landed, handled and re-exported freely without being subject to tariff and customs regulations.
“Lots of people from the Far East are beginning to use our FTZ because California’s warehousing, taxes and regulatory environment is so difficult to work within that they are looking at Southern Nevada as an alternative location,” said Skancke. “We operate in a global economy. We don’t think that way (in Las Vegas) because we just rely on 42 million people a year to come to Las Vegas Boulevard and hope they have a great experience and deliver for the rest of us.”
The last six years of the recession have shown that is not sustainable, he said.
“We are trying to build backup industries so that if we go into another recession — and we will — we don’t just have to rely on tourism,” said Skancke. “I think it is our (the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance) responsibility to help create the cultural shift that is necessary for this town to become a global business destination. This town is one of the most amazing cities in the world. I was going to be here three months. And I’ve been here 26 years because it’s just an incredible place.”
For more information about the alliance, visit lvgea.org or call 702-791-0000.