Businesses’ night to shine also time to criticize
On a night when Northern Nevada business leaders are accustomed to getting a pat on the back, a plaque to put in the office and a good meal – filet mignon and jumbo shrimp- attendees at Tuesday’s Governor’s Industry Appreciation Awards were also served humble pie.
Keynote speaker Jeffrey Finkle, president/CEO of the International Economic Development Council, told about 850 guests at John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks that reducing poverty and employing workers in living-wage jobs is key to economic success.
“I would ask you (to) think not only about your role as a successful business person, but to think of yourself as someone who gives back to your community and how you can play an energized role in creating more jobs in this region,” he said.
The statistics and criticisms Finkle rattled off were often answered with low boos from the audience. The two bottles of Tahoe Ridge wine on each glittering table did not keep everyone in their seats. Some guests walked out during the speech.
Finkle said he spoke as a pundit, focusing his “crystal ball” on what he believes President Bush will do to affect economic health and development.
“What we can tell from the first Bush administration is that he believes that there are two fundamental macroeconomic policies that they can undertake that will create jobs,” Finkle said. “And that is that they can reduce taxes, so that people and businesses will invest more, and that they can try to bring the value of the dollar down so that our products are cheaper overseas.”
Finkle said Bush’s first term was not full of progressive approaches, but he has hope for the future. He mentioned the president’s program for high unemployment and poverty called Opportunity Zones.
Julie Ardito, director of public relations for the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, said the event’s large attendance showed support for Nevada’s new and expanding companies. She said the keynote address did stir debate.
“The nature of the topic is very provocative,” she said. “So with speakers like this, people either love it or don’t love it. It stirred commentary and that’s what an event like this is supposed to do.”
Finkle said one big issue facing America’s economy is the national debt, which is at $7.4 trillion.
“It should be a concern that this country has a mounting debt and that the debt is carried by overseas interests,” he said.
Finkle said if everyone spent like the government, each person would be facing bankruptcy and public criticism. He put the blame for the deficit on tax cuts and a spend-thrift Congress, not on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or Homeland Security costs.
Finkle said about 3 million manufacturing jobs were lost since mid-2000. He also said 400,000 jobs were sent overseas in 2004, according to Forrester Research.
“There is good news for this region, however,” he said. “And that is only Nevada and Alaska have seen growth in the past two years.”
Gov. Kenny Guinn ended by saying that presentations such as this are needed, “so we know the pros and cons of certain issues in front of us.” Guinn said he is optimistic that Nevada is headed in the right direction.
James Sanwick, president of Private Wealth Management Group LLC of Minden, said its award plaque is displayed on the company’s reception counter.
“We were very pleased by the fact that Nevada goes out of the way to recognize companies who are bringing their operations to Nevada,” he said.
Sanwick said he doesn’t like to be negative about a speaker, but he wasn’t motivated by Finkle.
Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.
Governor’s industry appreciation awards
Commitment to Nevada award:
Harley-Davidson Financial Services of Carson City
New to Northern Nevada awards:
James Hardie Building Products of Storey County
Modern Stainless & Design Inc. of Dayton
Pacific Coast Flange of Mound House
PME Babbitt Bearings of Minden
Private Wealth Management Group of Minden
Production Pattern & Foundry of Mound House
Quoin International of Carson City
Expansion in Northern Nevada award:
Odyssey Business Services Inc. of Mound House