The Board of Examiners on Tuesday approved $2.37 million in state funds to start the Office of Economic Development’s first Center for Excellence, emphasizing the university system’s expertise in water.
An additional $1.43 million from the Desert Research Institute brings the total value of the contract to $3.8 million.
The key to creating the center of excellence is an agreement with IBM to provide the technology that will enable the needed type of data analysis, Economic Development Director Steve Hill said.
“This advanced computer technology sorts a vast amount of data and will form an institution that’s expected to become a world center of water research,” he said.
The center ultimately will create numerous jobs by bringing water-research businesses to Nevada.
“When you start putting that kind of expertise in one spot, it draws industry,” Hill said.
Gov. Brian Sandoval and Hill both said DRI, the University of Nevada, Reno, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, have some of the nation’s top water scientists. The proposed center is “the missing link to attract industry,” Sandoval said. He added that there is a number of other water-study centers, but that they deal with situations in which there is too much water. This center, he said, will deal with the lack of water.
The center is intended generate revenue for the state, not cost money, Hill said. He said that will include creating jobs, patents on technology developed by those scientists and licensing of intellectual property, including software, as well as drawing water companies to the state.
State funding for the project consists of $925,836 from the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation’s Career Enhancement Program and $1.48 million from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development — the general fund — to jump-start the water-excellence center and train people for the jobs the state hopes to create.
Sandoval said this is the first of several Centers of Excellence he hopes to create to draw different types of economic development.