Rob Hooper is serving as volunteer point man for Carson City Center Development, LLC, saying it’s another facet of his role with Northern Nevada Development Authority.
Hooper, the NNDA executive director who just returned from a three-week vacation, responded Thursday with a flat “no” when asked whether he would profit personally from the prospective private sector Carson City center mall plan. He fielded several questions about his LLC role and his being listed on the private limited liability company’s organizational filing with Nevada’s Secretary of State.
“I’m just doing my job,” he said. The development authority is funded by state government and regional county governments, memberships and donations. He did say the hope, if NNDA manages to help any development transpire, is that needed revenues for the authority would result from memberships and the like.
“NNDA is horribly underfunded to do what it does and what it could do,” Hooper said. He said his status with the LLC is similar to the volunteer role he played in helping form the Nevada State EB-5 regional center in Carson City, which strives to bring business ventures and foreign capital investors together.
“The downtown development project is a private development,” he stressed. “There is a difference between a public project like the (NNDA) contract with Carson City for the expansion and retention of the manufacturing base and a private project like the downtown mall project.”
That mall plan, in Hooper’s view, now is at an early stage during which premature discussion or disclosures of uncommitted possible participants can cause problems. The plan envisions a possible technology conference center, a lodging property and retailing.
Consequently, Hooper spoke generally about any letter of intent rather than to the specifics of one discussed, along with other project prospects, by local candidates for city supervisor at a forum while he was on vacation.
“Regarding an LOI,” he said, “a letter of intent is not a binding agreement. Any public discussion about the terms of a LOI could jeopardize the entire deal. This is one of the main differences between a public project and a private project. This is why the governor’s office kept confidential all information regarding the Tesla deal until it was done.”
Tesla Motors is building a battery factory in nearby Storey County.