Nevada officials focused on fixes

Nevada business and political leaders on Tuesday agreed on two things: Nevada needs to create more jobs and rebuild  its economic development program.

Gov. Brian Sandoval sounded the bell for economic development and job growth in his State of the State address Monday night.

Republican Lt. Gov. Krolicki and Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said Tuesday they expect the executive branch and legislature to work together to restructure, revitalize and coordinate the state’s economic development efforts.

“The good news is all eyes are focused on economic development and creating jobs,” Krolicki said. “There’s an attempt to throw politics aside.”

Will other assemblymen support legislation to reorganize the Nevada Commission on Economic Development?

“The legislative process is meant to kill bills, not pass bills, but we’re off to a good start,” Oceguera said.

Not everyone was positive. Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, lashed out at the Nevada Development Authority during a committee meeting Tuesday. He objected to marketing Nevada to businesses with a “no tax” message.

“We need a new way to position or market Nevada,” Horsford said. “We can’t market us as the place to come for free while we continue to gut education.”

However, Rob McCoy, a board member with the North Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the government affairs committee, commended the Republican governor for inviting Democrats Horsford and Oceguera to help restructure economic development programs.

“That was the right thing to do,” McCoy said. “Overall, the economic plan gets an A+.”

In his State of the State address, Sandoval proposed redesigning the Commission on Economic Development and recommended a 50 percent increase in general fund appropriations for the commission, but it’s not clear how much that is in dollars.

He also advocated a $10 million Catalyst Fund to help close business deals, finance infrastructure and spur job growth. The governor wants to create a public-private partnership, which poses a legal issue that is being studied, Krolicki said.

Oceguera said officials want the state commission to coordinate and provide oversight to numerous local economic development agencies that receive state money.

The governor also is considering giving legislative leaders and higher education officials a seat at the table of a reorganized economic development commission, Krolicki said.

Krolicki advocated more applied research, rather than theoretical research at Nevada universities. He wants university research to lead to new technology companies in Nevada, as it does in other states.

Oceguera mentioned opportunities for renewable energy companies, medical tourism ventures and creation of a data center in Las Vegas.

Glenn Christenson, managing director of Velstand Investments and chairman of the Nevada Development Authority, applauded the governor’s program.

“We’re very enthusiastic that the governor is placing such an emphasis on economic development in our state,” Christensen said.

Greg Garman, managing shareholder of law firm Gordon Silver, said the governor is “walking a fine line” between containing costs and allocating sufficient money to boost the state’s economy.

Garman said the state needs to end its almost total reliance on casinos and mining. “States that are showing the greatest ability to rebuild are the ones that have many drivers,” he said, “not just one or two like Nevada.”

In an e-mail, Dianna Fyke, director of Government Affairs for the Henderson Chamber of Commerce, expressed support for the program.

“Overall, we were very pleased with Governor Sandoval’s budget plan,” Fyke said. “We believe his strong emphasis on job creation and his focus on improving education will serve Nevada well. We are especially pleased that he will continue the Millennium Scholarship, which has provided thousands of Nevada students with the opportunity to attend college.”

Contact reporter John G. Edwards at jedwards@ or 702-383-0420. Review-Journal writer Benjamin Spillman contributed to this report.

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