Education key to sustained economic growth |

Education key to sustained economic growth

Speaking at Tuesday’s 20th annual Governor’s Industry Appreciation Awards program in Sparks, Gov. Kenny Guinn offered some advice to members of the Northern Nevada business community – sustaining a strong higher-education system represents a key to long-term business success.

The awards program welcomes new businesses moving into the region as well as recognizing existing businesses experiencing substantial growth. The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, Northern Nevada Development Authority and Nevada Commission on Economic Development sponsor the event.

Although Northern Nevada can celebrate two decades of business development success, Guinn said the region’s sustained economic growth depends not on a few industries but on the long-term ability to support and develop our education system. A vibrant, healthy business community depends on skilled, educated workers to fill the thousands of jobs that have and will be created in Northern Nevada.

“Our future is not gaming or tourism – education is,” Guinn said.

Not surprisingly for a former school district and university administrator, Guinn sees education as the engine that will drive Northern Nevada’s economy. He used the business awards forum to promote the Millennium Scholarship program, a Guinn initiative launched four years ago, as one way to maintain the state’s position as an economic leader.

The Millennium Scholarships, borne out of the windfall from the national settlement with tobacco companies, gives high school graduates with at least a B average the chance to fund much of their college tuition at in-state schools. More than 20,000 students have taken advantage of the scholarships.

However, the Millennium Scholarships need a permanent endowment to sustain this important program beyond what the original settlement funds can provide.

The governor warned business leaders that without a robust education system and key programs such as the Millennium Scholarships, our region “will lose the ability to be competitive.” Guinn made it clear he and state Treasurer Brian Krolicki will continue to work toward securing an endowment solution before the governor’s second term ends.

Guinn said he will address the issue in his State of the State address early next year.

Guinn’s view that investing in education means an investment in business and economic development is a sound one.