This week included an historic moment for the State of Nevada when Gov. Brian Sandoval gave his State of the State address to a packed audience in the Assembly Chamber. I was honored to hear the report in person, and was reminded of the day when Brian Sandoval walked into my office at NNDA, campaigning for his first term as our governor. I remember the conversation, as we sat for a long time discussing the challenges the state and the Sierra Region faced as the whole nation was in economic freefall. Nevada seemed to be faring worst in the decline, with the great possibility of being crushed by the weight of unemployment, foreclosure, budget shortfalls and failing businesses. However, within that meeting I heard our soon-to-be governor’s plan and felt his raw enthusiasm and a solid belief in the ability of Nevadans to win this battle. During his final State of the State, Gov. Sandoval confirmed Nevada had in fact triumphed. I walked away humbled to know that, as Gov. Sandoval put it; “Nevadans rose to the challenge, and we now are in a New Nevada.”
As the economic numbers were laid out by Gov. Sandoval, my pride in the Sierra Region was at an all-time high. Even though this region is the third largest metro area of the state with a much smaller population than Las Vegas and Reno, our region’s contributions were significant. In fact they were disproportionate with our comparative population. Gov. Sandoval stated 204 companies had moved into Nevada since 2010. Of these 204 companies, 69 in state expansions or relocations came from within the Sierra Region as well as 20 expansions of existing Nevada businesses. NNDA has had the honor of working with 32 percent of these 204 new companies, resulting in a $1.7 billion impact to the Sierra Region.
The teamwork involved in economic development is what allows the Sierra Region to continue to grow and prosper. However, it’s the unique and strategic approach towards economic development of Gov. Sandoval along with the assistance of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, directed by Executive Director Steve Hill which has created the diverse and responsive business ecosystem in Nevada. These exciting results are due to the diligence of many within the community such as the four counties in the Sierra Region and their officials, state agencies, the builders, the brokers, the chambers, WNC, community organizers and so many more. Without the support of this multifaceted team we wouldn’t have accomplished all this remarkable turnaround.
So what brought this team together? First of all it’s the understanding economic development isn’t about “what is in it for me?” It’s about the future of our kids, our grandkids and the overall future health of our communities. Economic development is all about working today for a better tomorrow. This is a highly motivating and compelling reason to invest time, talent and treasure into this worthy pursuit.
Secondly, a key to our regions success track is the realization Economic Development isn’t just about moving companies from one place to another. It’s about the overall health of the business ecosystem. NNDA’s focus on the issues of skilled workforce development, availability to capital, infrastructure development, global trade, innovation and entrepreneurship have all contributed to this multi-faceted economic development program that has become a thought leader in success.
NNDA is proud to have been a part of the solution that reduced unemployment and filled our vacant industrial spaces. Is this then the time to stop? Never! Now is the time to work harder. We must keep our cooperative team on the field. Now, when the economy has heated up, we must take maximum advantage to further our gains. We must position ourselves for the next down cycle, which will inevitably come. Now is the time to invest more, not less, into economic development.
Having that as our motivation, it’s important to realize the vision remains, but the mission is altered. We’ve got Nevadans back to work, but now we need to focus on quality vs. quantity. It’s now time to measure our successes by increases in median family income not just the number of jobs. NNDA’s vision is “A Prosperous, Resilient and Sustainable Economy for Northern Nevada.” This will always drive us. Our mission is more refined than ever. We will influence, facilitate and support the ongoing growth and prosperity of the economic ecosystem of the Sierra Region of Nevada. We will continue to be vigilant in monitoring the economic cycle and to proactively work to minimize and mitigate the downturns.
Now is the time my fellow Nevadans. I ask you to make a commitment to the good of the Sierra Region and the State of Nevada. Join NNDA. Be a part of a winning movement that has and will make a significant difference in the lives of our families and the successes of our businesses.
Rob Hooper is executive director of the Northern Nevada Development Authority.