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Study weighs Nevada’s fiscal outlook survey

Nick Coltrain
ncoltrain@nevadaappeal.com

Steve Hill, executive director of the governor’s new Office of Economic Development, couldn’t narrow down the results from a just-released economic development agenda into one major revelation.

But it did confirm the wisdom of the state taking the steps it has, he said Monday.

About five months ago, the state commissioned a $400,000 study by Brookings Mountain West into what Nevada can do to promote economic development. Half the cost was paid for with public money.

Hill said it will be the basis of a more focused statewide economic development strategy that should be published early next year.

He called the study a “clear-eyed view of Nevada’s strengths and weaknesses” – both the titles of headers in the report, which was released Monday. The strengths, from a development perspective, include low government interference. Weaknesses include “substantial workforce skills shortfalls.” The report also included suggestions on how to combat the weaknesses, namely through a more vigorous economic development agenda and a solid plan for accomplishing it.

That includes looking into competitive and matching grants for some of the state’s key industries and to promote their research and development here.

“I think the state shouldn’t be merely a bystander, but be engaged and match some of these efforts,” said Mark Muro, a senior fellow and policy director for the Brookings Washington, D.C., office.

The report also played up the importance of regional economies. Muro went as far as to say Nevada has no real “state economy,” but rather a collection of regional economies.

Playing up the regional economies included the state finding a way to promote its seven key economic sectors, among which it cites the aerospace and defense industries. Both have representatives in the Carson City manufacturing community.

The report says the state has “target opportunities” with unmanned aerial vehicle supply, assembly and testing, and the maintenance, repair and overhaul of aircraft systems.

STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES

Nevada’s Strengths:

• Low taxes

• Relatively low costs

• Light regulation

• Ease of business start-up/permitting

Nevada’s Weaknesses:

• Spotty economic planning and cooperation

• Weak innovation and technology commercialization enterprise

• Substantial shortfalls in workforce skills

Source: “Unify, Regionalize, Diversify: An economic development agenda for Nevada,” by Brookings Mountain West.