Brian Sandoval’s economic plan for Nevada has been released, and The Nevada View decides to dig in…
For those that may not want to plow through our fuller analysis below, we’ll summarize here. The plan, originally referred to as “Moving Nevada Forward: A Plan for Excellence and Economic Development 2012-2014” could also be retitled as “Nevada Economy: Redux” or alternatively, “We Are Soooooo Screwed”.
First, let’s look at the plan’s origins. The final plan began as a 178-page report specially prepared by economic think tanks Brookings Institution and SRI International. That initial blueprint identified several areas that Nevada needed to focus on for economic recovery, based on a customized analysis of this state’s strengths. It should come as no surprise that gaming technology and innovation was on the list; so was the private aerospace industries and renewable energy.
During Tuesday’s unveiling, Sandoval challenged businesses across the state to create 50,000 new jobs in the next two years as part as part of a complete overhaul of current, clearly non-working economic development strategies.
As mentioned elsewhere at The Nevada View, Sandoval’s new plan was expected to target regional development efforts, with the creation of locally-based economic development agencies that focus on the specific Nevada industries mentioned above.
Sandoval’s released plan gives new details: a group of regional development authorities along with a statewide economic development director, with newly-vested powers to authorize grants, will report directly to the governor’s Office of Economic Development, led by Sandoval’s appointee Steve Hill. The regional development authorities will be responsible for applying for funding.
Industry experts will work directly with targeted business sectors to help increase exports along with helping to facilitate better Research and Development efforts for business. Sector industry experts will be in charge of attracting and retaining businesses to Nevada, along with expanding businesses already operating from the state.
The beginning price tag for the business recruiting efforts comes in at $10 million, and is referred to as a “catalyst fund”. There’s also a “knowledge fund”, which Hill mentioned isn’t funded yet, but no fear: his team’s on it, and will be looking for private donations and other financial sources to fund the gap.
Economic development “experts” also plan on aligning with higher education and K-12 education to help create a trained workforce. This is particularly interesting since Sandoval has been under attack by labor unions (and Democrats, but that’s a given) ever since he came into office due to the education funding cuts he proposed in 2011.
Feeling positively queasy here…
Along with improving and reorganizing the state’s economic development efforts with a focus on key industries, Sandoval’s plan – as it’s intended – will make the new economic development agencies accountable during diversification efforts.
Hill stated that existing economic development agencies will be asked to do more than they’ve been doing – which hasn’t been much based on results yielded. Asking them to do more might be interpreted as an ultimatum, something along the lines of “either do the do, or get off the pot”.
So what will happen to the state’s pre-existing economic development agencies exactly? That’s anyone’s guess. Somer Hollingsworth, the president and CEO of the Nevada Development Authority, wasn’t available for comment at the time of the economic plan’s unveiling, nor was he at Sandoval’s presentation. Of course, it could have simply been his day off…
While Hollingsworth may or may not be unhappy with Sandoval’s plan, it seems that the libertarian Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) isn’t terribly impressed, criticizing his plan for interfering with free market, based on the fact that the plan calls for seven “industry specialists” that will be heading up different economic sectors.
Deputy policy director for NPRI, Geoffrey Lawrence, believes that instead of new industries being created because of free-market supply and demand, they’ll be created with an over-reliance on subsidies, which will ultimately breed a highly politicized investment-based environment.
Who knows? Maybe Sandoval’s bold attempt at single-handedly altering the very rules that govern a healthy economy might actually work. After all, supply and demand is such an outdated concept.
This pundit’s fingers will remain crossed that Sandoval’s plan actually pulls it off. This pundit’s brain, however, suspects a different outcome…
Born in France and raised in SoCal, Dorian Issock’s reviews, blogs and other literary tidbits appear in Desert Companion Magazine, The New Colonist, Urban Art, and scores of online destinations across the internet.