Expansion Solutions conducted a series of exclusive interviews with some of Nevada’s leading economic developers including Thomas Burns, Executive Director of Nevada’s Office of Economic Development; Taylor Adams, President & CEO of Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada; and Tina Quigley, President & CEO of the Las Vegas Global Business Alliance. Nevada is experiencing unprecedented heights over the last few years in manufacturing, specifically EV components and parts manufacturing. This growth in the industry has created a wealth of opportunities for these areas and the state as a whole. So we posted a series of questions to gain some added insight on the impact of Nevada’s manufacturing and lithium supply chain.
Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN)
ES: Can you talk a little bit about EDAWN’s overall strategy in building on the success of the diversification of the economy in Northern Nevada over the past decade?
EDAWN’s overarching strategy revolves around fostering sustainable growth and innovation. By actively cultivating a dynamic business ecosystem, EDAWN aims to attract a diverse range of industries, harnessing the region’s unique strengths and resources to continue expanding economic opportunities. Through strategic partnerships, workforce development initiatives, and entrepreneurial development, EDAWN is committed to further enhancing the region’s resilience and competitiveness, while maintaining its reputation as a prime destination for business development and investment.
ES: What role has lithium battery production played in the economic recovery in Northern Nevada and how will it affect the future in Nevada?
Lithium battery production has played a significant role in the economic recovery of Northern Nevada and is poised to have a lasting impact on the state’s economic future. In addition to the substantial increase in job opportunities in the region, the development of lithium battery production has led to the growth of supporting industries, including raw material suppliers, technology companies, and transportation services. This expansion of the supply chain has created additional economic opportunities and contributed to a more interconnected business environment, in addition to continued research and development. Nevada’s involvement in these advancements will further enhance its reputation as a hub for innovative technology and positions our state to contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future, which will be a significant driver of economic growth.
ES: What advantages does Nevada have being next door to the fifth largest economy in the world and being in the Pacific Time Zone?
Nevada’s adjacency to California grants businesses direct access to one of the world’s most dynamic and diverse markets. The sheer size and economic significance offer a wealth of opportunities for trade, collaboration, and market expansion. Proximity to California allows Nevada to tap into the rich talent pool of professionals, entrepreneurs, and skilled workers and streamlines supply chain logistics, reducing transportation costs and ensuring faster and more efficient distribution of goods and services.
Additionally, Nevada’s more affordable cost of living and favorable tax environment make it an attractive choice for both individuals and businesses. This cost-efficiency, coupled with access to the California market, offers a compelling combination.
Finally, being in the same time zone as influential regions like Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and Seattle can be advantageous for businesses in Nevada, as it facilitates real-time communication and collaboration with companies and partners in these areas. It can also improve access to markets and opportunities on the West Coast.
ES: Being brand new to your role, what new wrinkles will you bring to EDAWN?
I am deeply committed to building on EDAWN’s past successes and partnerships. EDAWN is not just an organization; it’s a catalyst for positive change in our region. We have an incredible track record of attracting businesses, driving economic development, and fostering innovation in Northern Nevada. These achievements are a solid foundation for our future endeavors. One of my key focus areas will be to continue the great work EDAWN has done to enhance our engagement with local businesses, educational institutions, and community leaders, to forge mutually beneficial partnerships and opportunities.
In line with the dynamic economic landscape, I will keep emphasizing adaptability and resilience, to ensure responsible growth. We’ll remain proactive in identifying emerging industries and technologies that can flourish in our region.
Furthermore, I am deeply committed to workforce and entrepreneurial development. Our success is intrinsically linked to the skills and talents of our workforce and the innovation of our companies. We’ll invest in additional programs and training that support those initiatives to ensure that we have a skilled workforce that can meet the demands of the industries we attract, and the resources for a burgeoning startup ecosystem.
ES: What does Northern Nevada’s economy look like in 10 years?
In 10 years, Northern Nevada’s economy is poised for continued diversification and growth. The region will likely thrive as a technology hub, driven by innovative companies and an expanding skilled workforce. Renewable energy, sustainable practices, and green initiatives will play a more prominent role, aligning with global trends. Population growth, fueled by an attractive quality of life and economic opportunities, will drive housing, construction, and service industries.
The continued success of our community partners like Our Public Agencies, The University of Nevada, Reno, Our Health Care Providers, The Desert Research Institute, Truckee Meadows Community College, our primary/secondary education providers like The Washoe County School District, and others will be persistent drivers of improved community rankings that enhance our ability to attract and retain businesses. In short, 10 years from now everyone will know what we know…that no matter how you define it, this is an amazing place to live the American Dream.
Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance (LVGEA)
ES: What is LVGEA’s role in supporting regional economic development efforts in the Las Vegas region?
Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance is a public-private partnership whose mission is to grow and strengthen the Las Vegas region’s economy. Our primary role is to attract and grow good-fit companies bringing quality jobs to residents. We help qualifying companies navigate the incentives process to locate and expand in the region. As the regionally designated economic development authority, LVGEA works to increase regional competitiveness, market the region to businesses and deliver value to our community.
ES: Las Vegas has a regional economic development strategy and is now targeting specific industry verticals. What are those industries, and what competitive advantages does Las Vegas have in those industries?
LVGEA focuses on industries in which our region has a competitive advantage and are a good fit for our resources. Battery manufacturing is a natural fit since Nevada is the only state in the nation supporting every phase of the lithium supply chain, from mining to recycling. Las Vegas is also home to a growing number of fintech companies, thanks to the region’s infrastructure supporting high-bandwidth, low downtime data centers. Recent developments within healthcare services provide a unique opportunity for biotech companies, including a collaborative effort to create the Las Vegas Medical District where the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV resides. With the exponential growth of sports (three major league franchises in four years) in Las Vegas, an international destination that provides a global brand, comes a need for tech companies to level up and bring the fan experience to life. Additionally, companies continue to move their headquarters to Las Vegas thanks to the region’s competitive cost of living and our business-friendly environment.
ES: What advantages does Nevada have being located next door to the fifth largest economy in the world?
Companies choosing to relocate or expand in Las Vegas enjoy the benefits of being near California, without having to be in California. Our region’s proximity to the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles put 40 million customers within a one-day delivery window and provides timely and cost-effective global shipping options. Not only are California residents flocking to Las Vegas for the lower cost of living, but thousands of California businesses are opting for Nevada, with Las Vegas the most popular destination. Nevada’s favorable tax rates and regulatory environment allow companies access to California’s population without the California burden.
ES: Las Vegas has about four times as many jobs as Reno, but Reno has a higher percentage of manufacturing jobs than Las Vegas. How critical is manufacturing to the future of the Las Vegas economy?
In recent years, Las Vegas has become a logistics hub due to its strategic location near the west coast. Manufacturing stands to benefit from those same key advantages. The region is leaning in to support Advanced Manufacturing through the creation of specific talent pipelines within the K-12 and higher education spheres, including the opening of the Center of Excellence, a partnership between the College of Southern Nevada and the city of Henderson to train the manufacturing students of tomorrow. Manufacturing jobs also often require specialized skills and training, leading to a higher paid, more skilled talent pipeline. Manufacturing is very important to the future diversification of Las Vegas’ economy, but it’s just one of the industry verticals that will help us achieve that goal.
ES: How do you support site selectors or companies looking for large project sites? Are large project sites still available in the Las Vegas region, and are you able to serve large water users?
Let me be clear – we are not worried about running out of water, now or in the future. In fact, with a 50-year resource plan, Las Vegas is the most water secure city in the desert southwest. The Southern Nevada Water Authority is a global leader in water conservation, with the region’s residents using less water today than they did two decades ago, even as the population increased by 49 percent. Southern Nevada is also the only major U.S. city to capture and recycle virtually every drop of water used indoors, allowing the region to stretch its water supply even further. As for the availability of land, the region is currently building or planning to build infrastructure to several major industrial areas, including Apex in North Las Vegas, Eldorado Valley in Henderson, and Sloan in Clark County. There is already a variety of land parcels available for development, but these infrastructure investments will ensure our region has developable land for the foreseeable future.
ES: What does the Las Vegas economy look like in 10 years?
Hospitality and gaming have always been Las Vegas’ bread and butter and will continue to have an important role in the region’s economy. Alongside the growth of tourism, the explosion of sports provides an opportunity for adjacent industries to plug into the anchor of hospitality including sports technology, sports medicine, and entertainment innovations. We seek to attract companies that complement sports and entertainment, while providing residents a career path outside of the traditional offerings. The Las Vegas of the future that we envision not only delivers the unparalleled entertainment experience visitors have come to expect, but also provides residents with the staying power to live and work in this community long after graduation.
Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED)
ES: In pitching Nevada, Las Vegas, and Reno to potential companies, what are the competitive advantages your state has to offer?
Nevada is a business-friendly state. The main reasons for that are low-cost startup, regulatory, licensing, and annual fees, taxes and tax structure, privacy of business owners and competitive utility rates for commercial operations. Nevada ranks as a seventh best state in the Tax Foundations 2023 State Business Climate an independent ranking of states in five areas of taxation: corporate taxes; individual income taxes, sales taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, and taxes on property, including residential and commercial property. The Tax Climate Index comparison to neighboring states is significant: California ranks 48th, Arizona 20th, Idaho 21st, Oregon eight and Utah ninth.
The combination of transportation infrastructure and the geographic location–proximity to west coast/California markets and businesses, reduced shipping and storage costs are important reasons for businesses to stage their operations in Nevada. Locations in Nevada provide less than one-day’s drive to 60 million customers and five major U.S. Ports serving the Pacific Rim. For businesses in key industries willing to make multi-year commitments to jobs and capital investments, Nevada offers several packages of incentives and programs to assist businesses.
The state has many businesses that are centered around the production of lithium or has products that require lithium including refurbishment, recycling, refining, and remanufacturing of sustainable battery materials—making Nevada one of a few locations, maybe the only location, in the world with a complete lithium supply chain. Beyond lithium, Nevada leads the nation in the production of nonfuel minerals and has considerable clean energy assets. The state’s natural resources are diverse, including gold, silver, lithium, copper, geothermal energy, barite, gypsum, diatomite, molybdenum, and more. In 2022, the Fraser Institute named Nevada the most attractive region for mining investors globally. Additionally, 37 percent of the state’s electricity generation came from renewable sources in 2022; 23 percent from solar, nine percent from geothermal, four percent from hydroelectric, and the remainder from wind and biomass.
ES: What advantages does Nevada have being next door to the fifth largest economy in the world and being in the Pacific Time Zone?
Nevada’s location within, the western U.S., provides an unparalleled market reach that gives companies a competitive advantage. Nevada offers less than a one-day drive to millions of customers and five major U.S. Ports serving the Pacific Rim. Northern Nevada is at the center of the western region, with 11 states and 53 million people only one day’s drive away. Southern Nevada is just hours away from the Southern California markets and within two-daydelivery of nearly every state west of the Mississippi River. Nevada’s proximity to California is a prime opportunity for economic diversity and growth. Las Vegas, Henderson, and Reno are among the top 10 relocation cities for California businesses, according to a public statement made by Greater Las Vegas Realtor Association in February 23. Nevada’s proximity to California has proven to be attractive for companies looking to do business in the California markets without the need for a physical location there.
ES: Roughly half of the companies that have received incentives in Nevada during the past decade have been in manufacturing, can you explain why?
GOED identifies advanced manufacturing as a key, and target industry, in the state and Nevada Tax Abatement incentive package has proven to be an excellent fit for all facets of manufacturing and attracting, promoting, and maintaining a strong, healthy, competitive manufacturing sector. For companies have been seeking to relocate or expand their manufacturing operations, Nevada has been able to provide industrial-scale real estate, with major industrial parks already developed, and prime land available and zoned for industrial use. Companies have been able to find a facility or work with one of Nevada’s many industrial developers to construct a build-to-suit facility that fits their unique needs. Additionally, Nevada has very competitive utility rates for commercial operations.
Nevada has also become a major player in the EV supply chain particularly in the manufacturing space. The state has many businesses that are centered around the production of lithium or has products that require lithium including refurbishment, recycling, refining, and remanufacturing of sustainable battery materials—making Nevada one of a few locations, maybe the only location, in the world with a complete lithium supply chain. Nevada has more than 7,500 acres of flexible, available Foreign Trade Zones (FTZs) which offer a great advantage to manufacturers (and many other) companies when it comes to duty fees, taxes, and international shipping costs.
ES: What does Nevada’s economy look like in 10 years?
The focus is for Nevada to continue to realize its vision for the future: a sustainable, innovative, and connected economy with high paying jobs for all Nevadans. Nevada’s unique economic assets from its competitive business environment and nascent innovation ecosystem to natural resources and geographic location make it primed for explosive growth in the years ahead and a cornerstone of national security. Given the development in Nevada’s clean tech industry and its complete electric value chain, Nevada is positioned to be ground zero for the energy transition and to play a key role in securing the energy independence and security of the United States. The development of the IT and Advanced Manufacturing industries, Nevada’s access to and production of natural resources such as lithium, and its proximity to innovation hubs and talent, has enabled clean energy to flourish in the state.
Nevada’s economy will be supported by a thriving innovation ecosystem that builds on state assets, history, and culture; supports collaboration between academia, industry, and government; engages a workforce with technical skills at all levels; attracts a diverse portfolio of investments; and develops and commercializes world changing new ideas, products, and processes.