The COVID-19 Pandemic gave our Southern Nevada economy a jolt. We realized early on that gaming would be severely impacted and that thousands of workers in the hospitality and leisure sector would be displaced. The need to diversify Southern Nevada’s economy has never been clearer. Nearly a year ago, I tasked Kris Sanchez, GOED’s Deputy Director, with organizing a Southern Nevada Infrastructure Working Group.
By bringing together all the governments and entities in the economic development space in Southern Nevada for regular discussions, the goal was to quickly gather the most pressing needs of the region and put together a priority list of needs. With the able assistance of John Restrepo at RCG Economics, the working group of 31 thought leaders met six times. John and Kris conducted 24 additional confidential two on one meetings. RCG Economics has compiled a report that it is currently being reviewed.
The working group’s mission included:
- Ensuring that infrastructure enhancement will benefit Southern Nevada’s most at-risk communities,
- Ensuring that it will benefit small businesses,
- Avoiding incremental and siloed approaches to infrastructure development, and
- Planning beyond and across jurisdictional boundaries.
The overarching goal of GOED in this endeavor is to position Southern Nevada as a highly attractive destination for private sector investment focused on 21st-century-relevant growth. The group had a strong starting point with Nevada’s Plan for Recovery & Resilience that was completed in advance of the 2021 Legislative Session. Several key issues quickly emerged such as the scarcity of developable land for industrial use, the lack of a skilled workforce, a rail system not connected to business, challenges with energy and water utilities, the lack of public transportation, and the challenge of coordination amongst the region’s economic development authorities.
On the flip side there are some recent positive developments such as the Nevada State Infrastructure Bank which was approved by the 2021 Legislature and a lands bill that is making its way through Congress. I am also encouraged that Southern Nevada realizes that it must come together to do what is necessary to attract new business and industry so that we are better prepared when the next downturn comes. I look forward to sharing the work of the Southern Nevada Infrastructure Development Group after it has been fully vetted and finalized.