Bob Thomas: Are there any politicians with vision in Nevada?

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Our political leaders know "so little about so much."

I was shocked when Gov. Brian Sandoval and his economic development gurus found it necessary to engage the services of a $400,000 consultant to identify Nevada's strengths and weaknesses with respect to attracting companies to relocate here. Typical bureaucrats. Hire a consultant or appoint a committee when you don't know what you should know. Nevada has been flubbing around with economic development for 25 years and still hasn't a clue.

Being the first legislator (along with Gov. Richard Bryan) to author legislation to create a department of economic development 25 years ago, I am disgusted by the ineffectual past efforts and the lack of vision by our governors, except Bryan, during my 40 years of living here. They've either been lawyers with limited, specialized educations or educators who've never worked outside their bureaucratic cocoons. And please don't throw Gov. Kenny Guinn up to me. No question, he was a successful superintendent of public schools in Clark County but was a political poster boy in his banking and energy exploits.

I find it astounding that a coalition of Nevada manufacturers doesn't appear to have been consulted about Nevada's pluses and minuses prior to spending $400K with Brookings, a bunch of liberal academics A collection of Nevada's companies could easily have told our economic development folks what, if anything, might attract businesses here. The following are about all any prospective business needs to know about Nevada. And Gov. Sandoval, you are welcome to them for the price of this newspaper; lots less than 400K.

Now, the positives are: 1) No personal nor corporate state income tax as yet. 2) We are a "right-to-work" state. 3) Property is generally cheaper than in many states. 4) We have naïve state and local governments that haven't quite learned how to be as repressive as California. 5) Ours is an average university and college system with outstanding mining credentials. 6) Our legislature meets only every other year for about 90 days.

I repeat, these are the main pluses that would be of interest to prospective businesses, other than being bribed with freebies and/or tax breaks.

The negatives are: 1) A large and predominantly unskilled and poorly educated work force. 2) More than our share of illegal aliens. 3) A mediocre K-12 education system that does almost nothing for non-college bound students. 4) A chronic water shortage - our best water ends up in two lakes, Pyramid and Walker, which are eutrophic and dying. 5) Big gaming owns this state politically. No other business segment will ever be equal to gaming. 6) Legal and illegal prostitution. I personally lost two excellent manufacturers that I had recruited from California to come to Carson City until the CEO's wives discovered our legal prostitution. And Las Vegas hotels are famous for their illegal stables of available girls on call, not to mention the massage parlors. 7) Property taxes are increasing exponentially, thanks to over zealous assessors like Carson City's David Dawley, who is now assessing yearly even though he isn't required to do so. 8) We have far too narrow a tax base which is a constant new-tax threat to businesses. 9) Some of our industrial areas look like junk yards, witness Mound House east of Carson City. 10) Nevada's state government is extremely unstable with serious north-south political differences. We should split into two states.

What about aesthetic attractions? The high desert parts of Nevada are quite lovely. We have clean air, good and plentiful golf courses, good highways, fair hunting and fishing, good music and theatrical productions, lots of Western history and art, good museums and tourist attractions.

Gov. Sandoval? I'll make you a deal. Being as I have the key to recruiting out-of-state companies, I will share it with you for $400K. I should be worth at least as much as your $400K consultant, who can only tell you what's good and bad about Nevada, but hasn't a clue as to how to recruit new companies. I've recruited five companies into Nevada and could have had many more were it not for Carson City's dimwitted action. Think it over.

• Bob Thomas was the founder and CEO of a high-tech division of Emerson Process, a Fortune 500 company.

Later he served on the Carson City School Board and the Nevada State Welfare Board and as a state assemblyman. He also founded and served on the Carson City Airport Authority and recently authored the book "Creating A World Class Company" (Amazon).


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