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Sandoval to become chairman of National Governors Association

Updated July 7, 2017 - 3:48 pm

CARSON CITY — Gov. Brian Sandoval will help put Nevada’s technology-driven economy on the national stage when he becomes chairman of the National Governors Association.

Sandoval starts his one-year term as chairman next week at the association’s summer meeting in Providence, Rhode Island. Sandoval will use the three-day event that starts Thursday to look at technology tied to energy and transportation, including energy storage, renewable energy, drones, electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles.

“We’re on the ground floor of some of these big, disruptive and new technologies,” Sandoval said Friday in an interview with the Review-Journal.

The effort demonstrates how Nevada’s economic base has evolved and diversified beyond gaming and tourism. Elon Musk, chief executive officer of electric-car maker Tesla, will speak at the event.

Tesla started making lithium-ion batteries in January at a factory in Reno. The Switch data center complex in Las Vegas has more than 2 million square feet, serving clients like Amazon Web Services, eBay and Intel.

Nevada is one of six states with an FAA designation for unmanned aircraft systems test sites. A drone in March 2016 made the first fully autonomous drone delivery nationwide in Hawthorne, a town near Reno.

“That’s part of what I hope that we’ve introduced to not only the nation, but the world — this new Nevada,” Sandoval said. “You cannot argue that we aren’t on the ground floor of some of the biggest innovations that exist right now on the planet.”

The event next week is just the start. The work on ideas and discussion about policies will continue at a February meeting in Washington and culminate with a July 2018 meeting in Santa Fe, N.M. at the end of Sandoval’s chairmanship.

Las Vegas is on the schedule, too. A two-day NGA transportation summit is timed to coincide with the Consumer Electronics Show in January, which attendees will tour.

“I’m excited and looking forward to showing what’s happening in Nevada,” he said.

Sandoval will succeed Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe as chairman of the NGA. The Rhode Island event will focus largely on the results of McAuliffe’s initiative, which is cybersecurity. The governors also will hear from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-0661. Follow @BenBotkin1 on Twitter.

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